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Lance Rodewald portrait

May 31, 2012

CDC Immunization Director Named Distinguished Alum         

Dr. Lance Rodewald received the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2012 from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. A graduate of the class of 1979, Rodewald is the director of the immunization services division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).         

The awards from the School’s Alumni Society Board of Governors recognize outstanding contributions to medicine and distinguished service to humankind. It was presented at SIU’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, in Springfield.

Dr. Rodewald’s supervises 215 personnel stationed both at CDC headquarters in Atlanta as well as throughout the United States and oversees a budget of $4.4 billion. The immunization division provides grants and technical assistance to states and localities to purchase and administer vaccines to safeguard the public from vaccine-preventable diseases. Record or near-record highs in immunization coverage and record or near-record lows in incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases have been achieved since Rodewald was named director in 2000. He joined the CDC as a visiting scientist in 1995.

Nominators cited Rodewald’s analysis of immunization issues and his persistence in spearheading improvements that benefit children and those living in poverty. Dr. Walter Orenstein, deputy director of immunization programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “His work contributed to a major change in strategy for dealing with underimmunization that was focused on providers and not consumers. He also carefully studied the potential for providing vaccines in emergency room settings.”

Sherri Burger, the CDC’s chief operating officer, credits Rodewald with critical changes to the nation’s immunization programs. He coordinated the agency’s procedures and monitored methods across multiple platforms. “Lance Rodewald modernized the entire system. He took an antiquated system and created an electronic system that could work in real-time.”

Dr. Rodewald said, “This award represents the work of a lot of people. It’s a privilege to be at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention because we’re at the center of the childhood immunization program. But the real work is done by literally hundreds of thousands of health professionals, all the state and local public health departments, vaccine experts and the parents who want to immunize their children through timely vaccinations. The success of the program is due to them.”

Rodewald completed fellowships in primary care policy at the CDC (1999), in general pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (1987), and in physician computer science training at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1983). He completed his pediatrics residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in New Brunswick (1985). He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (1976). Dr. Rodewald is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine. He is a native of Peoria. Dr. Rodewald and his wife, Pat, are parents of two adult children.