The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has announced that Dr. Don Wilber, is Oklahoma’s first CDC Childhood Immunization Champion. The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award is given jointly each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDC Foundation to recognize individuals who make a significant contribution toward improving public health through their work in childhood immunization. One champion from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia is announced during National Infant Immunization Week.
“We are grateful to Dr. Wilber for his leadership of the Oklahoma Immunization Advisory Committee,” said Lori Linstead, OSDH Director of Immunization Service. “He has been a champion in our eyes for many years and this recognition is well-deserved.”
A pediatrician at the Oklahoma City Clinic, Dr. Wilber has led initiatives for more than 20 years to increase immunization rates in Oklahoma. As chairman of the Oklahoma Immunization Advisory Committee, his support of the statewide immunization registry has had a positive impact on immunization rates and his leadership has created an atmosphere of cooperation between OSDH and private physicians to benefit Oklahoma’s children.
“Vaccines are the most important and effective medical advance in the last century and truly a miracle by preventing diseases that used to kill thousands of our children and adults,” said Dr. Wilber. “The irony of the situation today is that vaccines have been so effective in preventing diseases that the younger segment of the population who has never seen these diseases because of the effectiveness of the vaccine does not fear the illness but instead has focused on fearing the vaccines no matter how safe and effective they have been proven to be.”
Dr. Wilber received the award at the monthly Oklahoma State Board of Health meeting.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat in Oklahoma. Without the diligent efforts of physicians such as Dr. Wilber, these potentially deadly diseases would be an even greater threat to our children,” said Dr. Terry Cline, OSDH Commissioner and Secretary of Health and Human Services. “Dr Wilber has led the way in showing that each of us has the potential to be a champion by protecting children’s health through immunization.”