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FOR RELEASE: August 16, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Oklahoma State Department of Health Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Childhood Immunization Tulsa Area and Oklahoma County Immunization Coalitions Also Honored

At a special ceremony today, Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma State Department of Health Director and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Human Services Jerry Regier accepted The Millennium Time Capsule Award presented by Merck & Co., Inc. The award was given in recognition of the State Department of Health, and the Tulsa Area and Oklahoma County Immunization Coalitions' life-saving achievements in the area of immunization.

“The prevention of disease by immunization is one of the greatest public health triumphs of the 20th century,” Susan Noonan of the Merck Vaccine Division said in presenting the award. “A combination of innovative vaccines and dedicated public health professionals such as those gathered here has led to an increased quality of life for millions of people around the world."

Noonan noted Oklahoma's special accomplishments and leadership in the country for establishing an immunization registry which tracks the immunization history of children and reminds parents when vaccinations are due. Oklahoma is also noted for establishing two of the most dynamic citizen coalitions to promote immunizations for both children and adults.

Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin accepted the award on behalf of the State of Oklahoma and commended the health department for its vigilance and dedication in protecting the health and well being of the children of this great state.

The Millennium Time Capsule Award replicates the only healthcare-related accomplishment included in the National Millennium Time Capsule, unveiled by President Clinton at ceremonies in Washington, D.C. on December 31, 1999. At the President's invitation, Merck provided vials of vaccines to prevent eight potentially fatal diseases (including measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b), all of which were discovered or developed under the leadership of Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman during his tenure at the Merck Research Laboratories.

Secretary Regier, in accepting the award, acknowledged the contributions of hundreds of public health workers across the State and the critical role of private-sector partners in achieving the health department's successes. “We consider today's honor a challenge for even greater contributions and accomplishments in the future,” Regier said.


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