Franklin Woman Who Lost Daughter to Whooping Cough Wins Immunization Champion Award

Franklin Woman Who Lost Daughter to Whooping Cough Wins Immunization Champion Award

(Michigan DHHS, April 23, 2018)

LANSING, Mich. – Veronica McNally of Franklin has been named CDC Childhood Immunization Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunization across Michigan by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Veronica and Sean McNally lost their 3-month-old daughter, Francesca, to whooping cough (pertussis) on May 17, 2012. Driven by grief and an overwhelming need to understand how a seemingly “old-fashioned” disease could take their baby’s life, the couple founded the Franny Strong Foundation to educate parents about the need to vaccinate against whooping cough.

“I had a child, and my child would be here but for this tragic and terrible disease,” McNally said. “This foundation is really, for the rest of my life, my tribute to her life and to what happened to her.”

The Franny Strong Foundation has expanded its mission from promoting whooping cough vaccination to boosting all of Michigan’s childhood immunization rates. McNally was a driving force behind the statewide campaign I Vaccinate to increase Michigan’s childhood immunization rates to at least 80 percent within five years. The campaign was launched in March 2017 by a coalition of physicians, nurses, parents and public health officials, including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

I Vaccinate has since generated interest from local news, parenting blogs and concerned citizens across the state. McNally was a crucial part of the campaign’s early success as her foundation conducted pre-campaign research to identify the best communications strategies and tactics. Since its inception, the I Vaccinate website has averaged approximately 1,500 visits per week and resulted in more than 112,000 page views.

“Through the Childhood Immunization Champion awards, CDC and Michigan proudly acknowledge Veronica McNally’s passion, hard work, and commitment to children’s health,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. “Because of her strength, countless Michigan families have received credible, accurate information about vaccination through I Vaccinate.”                                                 

Each year during National Infant Immunization Week, 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 14 preventable diseases before the age of two.

“The tremendous success of CDC’s immunization programs to protect the nation’s children from vaccine-preventable diseases is a direct result of the efforts of childhood immunization champions,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We cannot overstate the value of the dedication our Champions have shown, which ultimately protects our children, schools and communities from serious diseases.”

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. One winner was selected in each of the participating states and the District of Columbia.

For profiles of other CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award winners, visit Cdc.gov/vaccines/champions.

About National Infant Immunization Week

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. Each year, during NIIW, communities across the U.S. celebrate the CDC Childhood Immunization Champions. These award recipients are being recognized for the important contributions they have made to public health through their work in childhood immunization.

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