What childhood milestone do you take for granted? Learning to whistle? Going to school? Playing dress-up? Tutus and tiaras are common clothing in my house. We are fortunate to reasonably expect that our children will accomplish these goals and more. This is not the case in more than 40 countries around the world where access to medical care is scarce, at best.
In 2010, the GAVI Alliance, an international vaccine financing partnership, began a program to introduce pneumococcal vaccinations to more than 40 countries by 2015. Once at full capacity, the program could save the lives of three to four million children over the next 10 years.
At the conference I was at recently, Shot@Life presented their initiative to provide vaccinations for children around the world. As a mom, their presentation really hit home. How would I feel if I couldn’t protect my children against a disease that was completely preventable? What would I do if the only help was 30 miles away, and I had to walk, carrying a sick child, to see a doctor? Think of the desperation a $5 vaccine could prevent.
Childhood vaccinations can be a controversial topic, at least in the U.S. Whether you believe in no vaccinations, reduced vaccinations, or an alternative schedule, you can’t deny that many immunizations save lives. It wasn’t so long ago that polio claimed thousands of lives and crippled thousands more. In the 1952 epidemic, for instance, of the 57,628 people diagnosed, 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with some form of paralysis. The polio vaccination has been credited with saving thousands of lives, and since 1980 there have been fewer than 500 cases reported in the U.S.
In the U.S., we have reaped the benefits of vaccines by almost completely eradicating deadly diseases, like polio. Poor countries have not enjoyed such success because they have very limited access to basic medical supplies, much less vaccinations. More than one million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. Their parents don’t have the luxury of deciding when or if to vaccinate.
For as little as $5, a child in a poor country gets a shot at life with a vaccination for polio and measles. That sounds like a great deal to me.
To help the least, go to Shot@Life and save a child’s life.