Red Lake School Nurse Reflects on Being Named 2023 MN Immunization Champion
With students preparing to head back to school, one thing some will need doesn’t come from a store, but rather a doctor’s office – vaccinations.
One Red Lake nurse is working to provide the necessary vaccines for area students and has even been named an Immunization Champion by the Association of Immunization Managers and the Minnesota Department of Health. Charmaine Branchaud can now add this title to the distinction of being the first Red Lake member to become a licensed school nurse.
Her passion for health care extends into the classroom, as Branchaud introduced a vaccination program to kindergarten through 5th grade students at Red Lake. This program is what the MDH recognized Branchaud for as the 2023 Minnesota Immunization Champion. But this title didn’t come without a lot of work.
“We thought about having a school immunization clinic. We did that in April,” said Branchaud. “It was a big job to look at all the kids’ immunization records from Red Lake, [Indian Health Services], and then go to the Minnesota Immunization Information Center and look at what they have done for kids.”
“I know that it’s tireless work,” said Hannah Tolman, the person who nominated Branchaud for the award. “It’s very tedious, and making sure that everyone is getting what they need, and Charmaine just goes above and beyond when she has to do that.”
Branchaud also attributes the success of the program to the team she worked with.
“People have to realize that this isn’t my award. I share it with many people,” said Branchaud. “You can’t do something like this on your own.”
“Her health care [technicians] at the school are amazing,” said Tolman. “And doing what she does, she really just meets families where they’re at and what’s convenient for them and what works for them versus trying to force something.”
Through this program, 38 of 51 students have been vaccinated since April of this year.
“Having vaccines is huge for school,” said Tolman. “When they’re in places and others in public, when they’re exposed to all sorts of sicknesses and getting kids immunized helps keep them healthy, eradicates disease. It does a lot of things.”
The work this team conducted not only bettered the health of Red Lake students, but community members as well. Branchaud recognizes this importance.
“The lack of information that’s out there … that’s also a big part of public health, is to educate people and to educate them with the correct information.”