By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – Dr. Elizabeth Lange has been chosen as Rhode Island’s first Childhood Immunization Champion by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new annual award honors immunization champions in each of the 50 states.
“Dr. Lange’s passion for childhood immunization and her dedication to Rhode Island children is an inspiration to her partners in pediatrics and public health,” said Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health. “Her work on the front lines as a pediatrician – and behind the scenes on issues of immunization policy – protects children and saves lives.”
Lange has been a pediatrician at Coastal Medical Inc./Waterman Pediatrics in East Providence since 1995, and sits on numerous boards and panels that aim to improve immunization rates in Rhode Island, including the Vaccine Advisory Committee, the Primary Care Physician Advisory Council and the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Lange also sits on the Expert Advisory Committee for R.I. Health Benefits Exchange.
“The success of Rhode Island’s immunization program rests on the shoulders of the state’s pediatricians and family physicians, as well as countless other immunization advocates,” said Lange. “While we have made much progress, there is still work to be done to ensure that all children in Rhode Island are fully immunized on schedule.”
Rhode Island’s coverage rate for the combined vaccine series children should complete by two years of age was 80.2 percent in 2011 (the national average was 73.1 percent). Rhode Island’s vaccination coverage rate for the vaccine series for adolescents between 13 and 17 years of age was 84.4 percent (the national average for this series was 64.2 percent).