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 where 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.
Recently 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!
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