Let the Relay Begin… S@L, A2V and Me!


Do you know what today is?

Today is the beginning of a week of bloggers working together to share about World Immunization Week. We each have different angles, but the same goal.  We are making sure every child worldwide has a Shot at Life.  And I am lucky to be the blogger to kick off the virtual relay!  So…ready, set….here we GO!

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been born into a life where I have choices.  Not everyone has that luxury.  I live in a place me and Daniellawhere I decide what I want for breakfast.  I decide which pair of shoes I’ll wear for the day. I decided whether or not I went to college.  I decided whether I wanted to bear children.  I decide whether my kids go to private or public school. I even decide whether or not I wanted to vaccinate my babies.  I have options.

There are women…mothers…in other parts of the world who don’t have these kinds of options for their children. The differences between them and me is the fact that I have resources available to me almost anytime, and almost anywhere. I have doctors readily available around the clock. I have a pharmacy full of medications (and vaccines) on almost every urban street corner.  I have choices.  They, often times, do not.

Did you know that one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine. Why? Because one in five children lack access to the life-saving immunizations that keep children healthy.  That means 1.5 Million children die every single year from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine.

Children are disabled or killed every year by vaccine-preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio. Pneumonia and diarrhea are the two biggest killers of children under five, and account for more than one-third of childhood deaths worldwide. Polio has recently reemerged in areas that had been polio-free for years and measles still kills an estimated 450 people each day—the majority of whom are young children.

image001Recently there was a measles outbreak in my town at a daycare center 1 mile from where I live.  Measles.  When was the last time you heard that someone had the measles? My mother had it when she was 6.  She is now 66.  She was treated by her doctors and recovered just fine, but when you have a child that contracts a disease like measles that doesn’t have access to medical care and treatment, it’s likely to lead to an untimely loss of a life yet to be lived.  This local measles outbreak was unexpected, to say the least, and it brought the reality that disease has no borders and it does not need a passport to travel.  If the measles exist somewhere, it is a threat everywhere.  The majority of the local children that contracted the disease in my town were infants who were not old enough to receive the measles vaccine yet. Now imagine you live in a third world location with measles outbreaks all around you…and you have an unvaccinated infant. What choice do they have to protect their baby or treat them when they contract the disease?

Every child deserves a shot at a healthy life, no matter where they live. Yet, seventy-five percent of unvaccinated children live in just 10 countries. Vaccines are an especially important health intervention because access to vaccines can mean the difference between life and death, a healthy life or a lifetime of struggle.

Immunization is one of the world’s biggest public health success stories. Yet, 1 in 5 children still lack access to the life-saving immunizations that help keep children in the U.S. healthy. Coordinated worldwide vaccination efforts have made significant progress, particularly in reducing cases of measles and polio, but funding gaps could threaten these gains. By scaling-up the delivery of vaccines we can save children’s lives and also save billions of dollars through reduced treatment costs and gains in productivity.

What can I do, you ask?  That’s an excellent question!


Illinois Senator Mark Kirk with Shot@Life Champions – March 2015

For me it’s an easy response. I can be a voice.  I can be an educator.  I can be an advocate.  I can Advocate to Vaccinate and talk with my congressional leaders about supporting funding for global immunizations.  I can show others the bigger picture about the importance of vaccines for the children that need it most. I can take a message to Capitol Hill, or my Congressional leaders’ local office, and ask for their support on maternal and child health legislation.  I’m not asking my neighbor down the street to vaccinate her child.  That is her choice. But I WILL ask her to support efforts to make sure that the mothers who do want vaccines, get that access worldwide.

So, you can join our collective voice, and the movement, to give kids everywhere a Shot@: chasing butterflies, playdates, best friends, bear hugs, a first day of school, and ultimately…a Shot@Life.

Just follow me.

On April 25 I will pass the relay baton to: http://nicolettespringer.com


Isn’t Pneumonia Cute?


photo 3Looking at these little guys you might think they are darn cute! Pneumonia is especially cute in his peachy color and wobbly shape… but we all know, in reality, these two little guys are anything but cute.

If you live in the US, it is likely you don’t give polio a second thought because we haven’t seen it in many, many years.  I was just talking with a friend about Shot@Life a couple of weeks ago and they were asking about my last trip to Washington, D.C..  I was telling her I was in DC advocating for the eradication of polio and she said, “I thought that was already gone?”  This is the perception of many people in then US because we have been polio free for so long.  However, it is still alive and moving around in other parts of the world and it is only 99% eliminated from the globe – we still have 1% to go!

While pneumonia is treatable and causes less deaths in the US every year, in other parts of the world it is a death sentence, especially to children under the age of five.  My own son contracted pneumonia at the age of two.  This was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever gone through with my children.  But I was lucky, I had access to a great hospital with lots of doctors and medications to help treat his illness.  I couldn’t imagine what the outcome might have been if I lived in a developing country and didn’t have that sort of access.  My hope is that no mother ever has to experience an undesirable outcome for something that could have been prevented.

So…what can we do to help eradicate polio, prevent pneumonia, and decrease the deaths of children in developing countries?

Well….I chose to support Shot@Life, a United Nations Foundation Campaign, that connects and empowers Americans to help protect children in developing countries from vaccine-preventable diseases.  By joining this movement, I helped save a child’s life every 20 seconds!  2.5 million kids didn’t die this year because of vaccines.  2.5 MILLION! 1 in 5 children do not have access to life-saving vaccines.  Imagine if nearly half the children enrolling in kindergarten this year in the United States were to die of diseases that can be prevented by a vaccine.  That’s how many children die each year in developing countries because they don’t get the immunizations that they need.

So, back to how YOU can help save lives from the comfort of your own home (or computer)…

Through involvement in Shot@Life, you can give a child a lifetime of immunity from deadly diseases and a shot at a healthy childhood by voicing your support for vaccines, to help ensure that US government investments in vaccines continue to save lives.

So I encourage you to take, at the very least, one simple action from the list above to start helping to give kids a shot@enjoying the spring sunshine, flying kites, catching butterflies and ultimately, a Shot@Life.





The ASK is in the thAnKS


This week some of the Chicago Shot@Life champs joined me to visit our Senators offices to thank them for their overwhelming support, and introduction of SR 270, in support of polio eradication,  in October.  Senator’s Kirk (R-IL) and Durbin (D-IL) have been regular supporters of global vaccines and the mission of Shot@Life over the last two years and have very often co-sponsored resolutions on issues we advocate for every day.


photo 5

As advocates, we often head to the Hill, or to district offices, with an “ask” for our meetings.  However, there are times that it is ok to simply stop in to say hello and “thanks for your support”.  At our meeting on Monday our regular contact was incredibly grateful for our personal “thanks”, so our meeting was a success in our eyes.  Just as successful was our meeting in Senator Durbin’s office where we were able to add another contact to our list of office staffers in that office.  This particular staff member had done his homework about Shot@Life and was also pleased to accept our generous “thanks” for the Senator’s support and co-sponsorship of SR 270.

Being grateful for support is sometimes lost in the shuffle post meeting.  And most certainly when it is an action that a Senator or Congressman took that benefits our cause.  That “thanks” might be what gets you the meeting next time you call, when you do have the “ask” you want to make, so don’t forget to make it happen – either in person or in writing – because you never know what door it might open for you later down the road.