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Immunization Coalition Manager Recognized as Immunization Champion

5/23/2018

Elaine Darling, MPH, the Program Manager of the West Virginia Immunization Network (WIN) was recognized as the 2018 West Virginia Childhood Immunization Champion by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Elaine has led the efforts of the 300-member coalition to promote childhood immunization, to educate and adopt evidence-based best practices, and advocate for strong immunization laws for schools and child care centers for the past six years.  Elaine works actively with the Immunization Action Coalition and Every Child By Two for the betterment of immunization in West Virginia and across the nation.  She has greatly impacted immunization policy in West Virginia and in these national advocacy groups and works with the state Department of Education to facilitate a two-day annual immunization summit in conjunction with the state’s school nurse conference in addition to providing valuable resources to schools throughout the year.   

Elaine has been instrumental in developing regional WIN coalitions across the state to strategically implement outreach and resources across the state.  Regional coalitions have been established in Morgantown, Lewisburg, and Martinsburg with more being planned.  As the WIN Program Manager Elaine has been the point person working with the Steering Committee to administer the   “Take Your Best Shot” program which funds county-level immunization providers and advocacy groups with matching funds for programs that that raise immunization rates and awareness among children.  These local programs have been overwhelmingly effective in raising rates at provider levels by 100% or higher.  Elaine also works diligently with the State  Immunization Program, the American Cancer Society, and the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Program to develop the We Are the Key to Cancer Prevention program to strengthen recommendations of providers to parents for HPV vaccination.  Additionally, Elaine has essentially been solely responsible for:

 

•          The production of Faces of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases videos featuring West Virginians.

•           Collaboration with the West Virginia University School of Nursing to host the “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic” video on the WVU online course shell with free CEUs for nurses. Hundreds of people have viewed the video through the course shell and evaluation responses have been very positive, including this one: “As a parent, I had previously chosen NOT to vaccinate my children with HPV vaccine. After watching this video, I am making an informed decision to vaccinate my children with HPV vaccine and promoting other parents to do so as well.”

•           Elaine was inspirational with adding language to the West Virginia State Board of Education rule to recommend county boards of education and public schools give high school students one hour of community service credit if they show proof of their annual influenza vaccination.  Many WV high schools have been amenable to this innovative idea to promote health and support attendance and academic achievement. 

 

Prior to her career in public health, Elaine was a Peace Corps volunteer who lived and worked abroad in a developing country for several years in which there was very little access to vaccines. The WHO would bring in one vaccine a year (the first year she was there it was oral polio vaccine; the second it was measles vaccine) and do mass vaccination clinics that people would walk several miles to and then wait all day to get their shot or their kids’ shots. If they missed the vaccination clinic that year, they were unlikely to have a chance to get vaccinated for several years and perhaps not at all.  Elaine is a witness to the devastating impact low vaccination rates can cause and this helps to fuel her dedication to immunization coverage.