One of our summer highlights usually entails some very fun trips to our lake house in Central Wisconsin. It is about 3 hours north of our home in the suburban Chicago area. Every July 4th we spend an entire week there with the whole family. We spend our time enjoying our days on the lake; movie nights and no week would be complete without s’mores around the bonfire. Making s’mores has become a nightly ritual that all the family enjoys, regardless of our age! I mean, honestly, who doesn’t like a s’more? Yummy, gooey marshmallows toasted to perfection, sweet chocolate and delicious graham crackers. What’s not to like?
While these trips always produce wonderful memories, they can also produce long term drama for our family in some way or another. Don’t get me wrong – summer is one of my favorite seasons – un-interrupted time with my children, the bustle of everyday life left behind, family get away weekends at the lake house, sleeping in and making memories that will last a life time…. but this also means we spend the summer treating mosquito bites, skiing injuries, bumps, bruises and more.
To make things a little more exciting, my daughter is allergic to said mosquito bites. Yep…mosquito bites. I know that sounds crazy…but it’s true. When she is bit the site swells and becomes incredibly itchy. It is hot the touch and drives her crazy. There is little we can do for her once the bite happens so we have to be religious about covering her in bug spray when she is outside, but especially at our lake house. We have found some remedies to help lessen the severity of the bites when they occur, but it is always an issue for us in the summer. The itching is the worst part for her and the swelling is the worst part for me to watch – especially when they get her on her face! And when we miss the one spot that the pesky mosquito finds she is then required to be lathered in Benadryl, Calamine lotion or Tea Tree oil – all of which she loathes. Believe me, I hate seeing her have to deal with it and would love to find a way to prevent it all together if I could.
I imagine that might be how the first vaccines were developed. Maybe Edward Jenner or Louis Pasteur decided to work to develop the first vaccines because their family member had been affected by the ugliness of a mosquito bite. In fact, the first vaccine ever invented was against smallpox and discerned by Edward Jenner in the 1770’s. However it was not until Louis Pasteur developed rabies and anthrax vaccines 100 years later that the first compulsory vaccination laws were passed.
As a Shot@Life Champion and parent I am so grateful for their discovery so many years ago. Could you imagine what we might have to worry about – other than a simple mosquito bite had vaccines for polio, measles, and smallpox not been invented? In this picture you see a beautiful little guy from Myanmar who just received his measles vaccine. What a great day for him!
I have been lucky enough not to have the experience of having the measles because I was vaccinated as a child. However, I have had chicken pox as a child. I remember my mom making me wear oven mitts on my hands to prevent me from scratching the spots all over my body. I was covered in calamine lotion from head to toe and missed school for two whole weeks until the last spot was gone. And while I know my daughter has a similar experience every time a mosquito finds her I know that it is not something that will be life threatening and can be treated and will go away in due time. But so many children around the world don’t have that luxury because vaccines are not available to them to prevent the dangers of diseases like measles, polio, rotavirus and pneumonia. Their troubles will not go away with a few drops of tea tree oil or a good lathering of calamine lotion. Their lives are in jeopardy without access to these vaccines and we have the power to help make them accessible and save lives every day through Shot@Life.
While I love my time at the lake house in Wisconsin every summer, and I love making memories with my own kids it is difficult to think about those mothers, just like me, who will never have the chance to make those memories or even treat an annoying mosquito bite, simply because I was able to vaccinate my own children from something as simple as measles. So, the next time you are sitting around a bonfire stacking up your ooey, gooey ingredients for your yummy s’more, take a minute to think about those children who are not yours and still need access to these proven vaccines to keep them safe. And know that by supporting Shot@Life you are supporting more summer fun, more swimming in the lake, more annoying mosquito bites and the making of more S’mores for everyone. And again, who doesn’t love a S’more?