Written by Chrysula Winegar
A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. That’s 1.7 million children each year, or nearly half the number of kindergartners enrolled in American schools this year. Gone. This week is World Immunization Week, and I am painfully aware of this statistic.
In the developing world, when a child needs a vaccine, a lot of planning is involved. Some moms walk 15 miles to reach life-saving vaccines for their children. It makes my 15-minute wait in the pediatrician’s office feel like a breeze, even if my three year old is trying to rip pages out of the books or torture the goldfish.
Action around the globe
During World Immunization Week, which runs from April 21-27, millions of children will be vaccinated and immunized through efforts like the Lions Club International’s radio and TV messages that will reach out to thousands of parents and children. The call to the community is going out in a massive way.
Vaccination campaigns are being implemented in Latin America through the Pan American Health Organization, and country-officers of the World Health Organization are planning nationwide and regional campaigns in places including Africa and Asia.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI Alliance) is spearheading a first-ever effort to jointly roll out the rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccine in Ghana. Pneumonia and diarrhea are the biggest killers of children under five, responsible for one-third of child deaths worldwide. Both are vaccine-preventable diseases.
Diseases that we don’t think to worry about in the United States are still causing concern in other parts of the globe. Vaccines can help. Polio has almost been eradicated from the world — dropping by 99 percent in the last 20 years, with only three countries still on the polio endemic list (Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan). Now to get that last 1 percent! Measles still kills more than 150,000 children each year. Despite the CDC declaring measles eliminated from the USA in 2000, the recent Superbowl outbreak in Indiana reminded us that borders are completely porous where contagious viruses are concerned. Both polio and measles can be prevented by vaccines.
What can we do to help?
Instead of walking 15 miles to get to a vaccination station, you can spend 15 minutes or less each day to help spread the word about the Shot@Life campaign and the importance of global vaccines to give every child a shot at a healthy life.
Think you can’t help solve the world’s problems? Think again. Find your To Do list for the week here! Shot@Life aims to raise awareness, action and money right here at home, for the cause of global vaccinations.
You’ll find a daily list of quick actions to help reach the 1 in 5 children around the world who do not have access to life-saving immunizations. I’d say that’s worth 15 minutes of our time.
Because every child deserves a shot at childhood.
Photo from UNICEF Sverige via flickr
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