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A school nurse for Red Lake Nation, Charmaine Branchaud (Red Lake Chippewa Indians), has been named a 2023 Minnesota Immunization Champion.

Branchaud was recognized for her extensive career promoting immunization and her recent outstanding efforts that increased the overall immunization rate from 84 percent to 94 percent for students in the Red Lake School District, according to a press release.

“She truly loves being a nurse, and her dedication to immunizing the children in the Red Lake School District will have a positive impact on the health of the community for generations,” Hannah Tolman, a public health nurse who nominated Branchaud for the award, said in a press release.

Branchaud’s passion for healthcare extended into the classroom, where she introduced a vaccination program for kindergarten through 5th-grade students. She reviewed hundreds of student immunization records, collaborated with partners to organize a school-based immunization clinic event, and communicated with families of students not up to date on their immunizations.

Branchaud has been a registered nurse for 46 years. Her great-grandmother was a medicine woman who was passionate about healing others and inspired her to become a nurse. After working for many health organizations, she sought and obtained licensure as a school nurse and began working for the Red Lake School District in 2021.

From September 2022 to June 2023, she served as a member of the Minnesota Department of Health’s Childhood Immunization Workgroup, a group of leaders from several sectors tasked with addressing existing gaps in immunization rates. Her experience working with families in Red Lake has provided valuable insights to the workgroup.

The award is given out by the Association of Immunization Managers and the Minnesota Department of Health. The awards are announced annually during National Immunization Month in August.

“Charmine Brannchaud is a great example of an immunization champion, and she is very deserving of this award,” Jessica Hancock-Allen, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health, said in a press release.

Hancock-Allen also noted that many children fell behind on recommended immunizations during the pandemic, so now is a great time for parents to connect with their child’s healthcare provider to make sure they are up to date.

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