You Can Help Save 1.7 Million Children

Posted April 25, 2012 by jimhigley

The new United Nations Foundation shot@life program is calling all Americans to action to save the lives of children in developing countries.

I recently took my teenage son to the pediatrician for an annual check-up.

Driving to the doctor’s office, my son asked, “Do I have to get a shot? I hate shots.”

“Deal with it,” I told him. “You’re lucky.”

He had no idea what was really going through my mind.

A couple of facts I recently learned:

  • 1 in 5 children around the world do no have access to the vaccines they need to survive
  • A child dies every 20 seconds in developing countries of a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine
  • The number of children dying every year from preventable diseases in developing countries is nearly equivalent to half the children entering kindergarten in the United States. Folks, that’s 1.7 million children. And that’s not acceptable.

How do I know all of this?

Well, I’ve spent just a few minutes of my time learning about the  Shot@Life program – backed by the United Nations Foundation.

What is Shot at Life?

Shot@Life educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries.  A national call to action for this global cause, the campaign rallies the American public, members of Congress and civil society partners around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines. By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for and donate vaccines, the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign will decrease vaccine-preventable deaths and give children a shot at a healthy life.

Why Vaccines?

Vaccines currently save 2.5 million children every year. Thanks to a coordinated global effort, in the last 20 years new cases of polio have dropped 99 percent and the world is nearly polio-free. The Measles Initiative has vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries since 2001, decreasing world measles deaths by 74 percent. Groundbreaking vaccines for pneumococcal disease and rotavirus are being introduced globally now and, if distributed widely, have the potential to save millions more children.

For just a few dollars, vaccines provide a lifetime of protection for children. A study published in the journal Health Affairs in June 2011 estimates that scaling up immunization coverage could translate into $151 billion saved from reduced treatment costs and gains in productivity.

Vaccines save lives. It’s really quite simple.

Which Vaccines?

Shot@Life  supports the work of its partners to expand access to existing vaccines for children in developing countries to protect them against four vaccine-preventable diseases: measles, polio, pneumonia, and diarrhea.

How Can You Help?

Head over to Shot@Life. You’ll find plenty of things you can do there including sending a message to Congress, joining this important cause via various social media channels. And, of course, you can donate funds. For just $20, you can help protect a child from four of the most deadly and disabling vaccine-preventable diseases.

  • Dr Marian Olpinski, MD, PhD

    Hi Jim,
    I’ve read your column with great interest. I am a local pediatrician and I am finding more and more parents who do not want to vaccinate their children here in the USA! Measles was announced in 2000 as eradicated in the USA. Now it is back!! There were 200+ cases last year and if nothing changes, in 3 or 4 years we will have thousands of cases. In France, in 2008 there were approx. 500 cases and in 2011, there were approx. 28,000 cases. If parents continue to not vaccinate, children will be dying in the USA of measles like they already do from Whopping Cough (10 infants died in California in 2010). I applaud the Shot@Life program and the good work they are doing overseas, but I would like to see them focus on the USA as well.