Category Archives: Shot@Life

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:


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 History of World Polio Day



Last night my daughter was up really late working on a history project, which is just the nature of the junior high beast, I suppose.  So here I sit, this morning, sipping my highly caffeinated tea, realizing that one day, hopefully very soon, some junior high student, somewhere, will be doing a history project on the eradication of polio!  While that sounds crazy to some of you, it is so close to being true that it could very well become history before my own kids finish school and head off to college, and more importantly, they could be part of making that history happen!  Hard to imagine?  I say “NO!”  The globe is currently 99% polio free!  That means that there is only 1% left to go!  That, my friends, is historical!  Only one other disease has been eliminated from the globe and we are SO CLOSE to making it happen again.  But we can’t just wait for it to happen.  We have to help write the history of our generation.

If we keep moving ahead like we are, making strides in reaching those most in need.   We CAN rid the world of the debilitating effects of polio.  We CAN save lives.

Polio only exists in three remaining countries:  Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Most recently India is polio free!  And while most of us are safely tucked in our first world environment where we feel that polio will never reach us again, we need to realize that as long as polio is anywhere in the globe, it is a threat to all of us, everywhere.  Rotary and its partners, including Shot@Life, are committed to fighting polio until every child is safe from this devastating disease.  According to Rotary statistics it costs $.60 to protect one child from polio.  Sixty Cents!  The majority of children that contract this disease are under the age of 5.  FIVE!  And the estimated amount that will be saved if polio is eradicated from the globe:  $40-50 billion.  BILLION!

So, back to this history project…the task was to learn about your own family history…what my daughter learned was that her grandpa’s uncle (my great-uncle) had polio as a child.  He has a limp, that until I became involved with Shot@Life, I never questioned.  But as my involvement with Shot@Life sparked conversations with my own family, I learned that his limp was due to the contraction of polio as a kid.  I was able to share that bit of history with her last night, which makes the mission of eradicating polio all that more important to us, personally.

I got involved with Shot@Life a few years ago and from day one I have tried to involve my kids.  They know the statistics, they wear the green shirts, they stand in very public places to hold signs that read “vaccines save lives”.  But more importantly they know that they are helping make history happen and not just reading about it in their books at school.  They ARE the change.  They ARE the voice.  They ARE advocates.  Little ones…but they too care about the world around them and seeing diseases like polio rid from the globe for good.

I can only hope that in the near future my kids can feel great pride about being part of this historical endeavor, and know that they contributed to the efforts to help end polio so that when their own kids are working on their history projects late at night, and their books talk about “back in the day when polio was still around”, they can say that they were part of that history lesson.  THEY helped make it happen!  Granted, their names will be listed in any of the history books, and they won’t get fame or recognition from putting in the effort, but they will know that they were part of a movement that made the world a place where more children can thrive, more children are safe, and all children are free from the devastating effects of polio.  THAT is historical and THAT makes us part of the history that is just waiting to be written.

You can learn more about ending polio at or

Our reflection in the Chicago BEAN downtown Chicago.

Our reflection in the Chicago BEAN downtown Chicago.

Taken from the observation deck at the top of the Willis Tower in Chicago.

Taken from the observation deck at the top of the Willis Tower over Chicago.