Elko’s Bobbi Shanks Receives Federal Recognition for Contributions to Childhood Immunization

Reno, Nev. (April 20, 2016) — Elko’s Bobbi Shanks has been named a CDC Childhood Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunization in the state of Nevada.

Shanks is the school nurse coordinator for the Elko County School District. However, because Elko County does not have a public health nurse or health district, she has worked tirelessly with a team of nurses and stakeholders to increase the access to immunizations for all children in rural northeastern Nevada. 

This team was awarded The Johnson & Johnson School Health Leadership Scholarship for improving student health practices, and they won an award for a poster presentation at the National Association of School Nurses Conference regarding barriers in the community to children staying on the recommended vaccination schedule and ultimately, being able to enroll in school. 

“Bobbi’s leadership on immunization issues has mobilized this region to look at the barriers present from birth, instead of waiting until children need to start school and are significantly behind in their shots; putting their health and the health of the community at risk,” said Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker. “When Elko County lost its public health nurse, Bobbi recognized that collaboration with private providers, community groups, and others would be necessary to ensure that Elko children received recommended immunizations at appropriate times. By stepping up to address vaccination barriers at a community level, her leadership as a school nurse strengthened the community’s perception of school nursing.”

Each year during National Infant Immunization Week, the CDC and the CDC Foundation honor health professionals and community leaders from around the country with the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge the outstanding efforts of those individuals who strive to ensure that children in their communities are fully immunized against many preventable diseases before the age of two.

“My goal and the goal of the Elko County School District is to keep kids healthy, safe, and ready to learn.  Immunizing our students achieves this,” Shanks said.

“Ensuring that every child is vaccinated on schedule is critical to protecting our children, schools, and communities from outbreaks of serious diseases,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician at CDC and the Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. “We could not achieve our goal of protecting children without those committed individuals who promote immunizations at the state and local levels.” 

CDC Childhood Immunization Champions were selected from a pool of health professionals, coalition members, community advocates, and other immunization leaders. State Immunization Programs coordinated the nomination process and submitted nominees to CDC. Each year, one CDC Immunization Champion from each of the 50 states, eight U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States, and the District of Columbia is honored. For profiles of other CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award winners, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/champions.

Immunize Nevada is widely recognized as Nevada’s trusted resource for immunizations and community health for all ages by fostering education and statewide collaboration. Immunize Nevada’s vision is healthy communities across Nevada protected from vaccine-preventable disease. For more information, visit ImmunizeNevada.org.

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