Last week when I was at EVO Conference, a woman named Devi took to the stage to talk about her work with the United Nations Foundation and the global effort to vaccinate children. The work they are doing is unreal, both in its scope and in its profound effect on the world. I started crying half way through her presentation and didn't stop entirely for probably two days. It's just so simple:
If we can vaccinate children they do not have to die.
You and I have the luxury of deciding whether or not to have our children vaccinated. We can sit in our air conditioned homes, with clothing both pleasing and covering, car keys in our wallets, drink clean water from the faucet, send our older children off to school, have dinner prepped in the fridge, and DECIDE on a vaccination on our next well-child visit. We might even get a little heated about vaccines, and whether we'll modify the recommended schedule, or not vaccinate at all. We throw around words like "eradicated" and "not seen in a generation."
How stupidly lucky we are.
What a luxurious choice.
|Shot@Life's Mozambique Measles Campaign|
All around the world 1.5 million children DIE because they were not vaccinated. They die of measles, pneumonia, diarrhea/rotovirus, and from a thousand other vicious bugs. As Devi said, she didn't cry until she found out that in some sub-Sarahan African cultures, women don't cry when their children die, because they expect their baby to die.
They expect their baby to die.
And I'm annoyed when I can't get the kids in the car on time for the 7 minute drive to my pediatrician, where my baby's vaccines are waiting for whenever we show up.
One mother in Mozambique walked 15 miles with her toddler on her back to get him vaccinated. Why? Because she didn't want to lost any more children to measles.
GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, has committed 7.2 billion US dollars since 2000. 80% has been committed towards the purchase of vaccines. Because 1.7 million children dying every year from a vaccine-preventable disease is unacceptable. It costs $20 to vaccinate a child and more than $200 to hospitalize a sick one (if they can even get to a hospital.) Pneumonia, diarrhea, polio, and measles, for just $20.
You can learn more about how you can help vaccinate a baby by visiting Shot@Life. One of the easiest things you can do? Call your congressman, write them a letter (they take emails these days,) tell them that you think it's stupid that children die because they don't have vaccines--that you will not accept anything less than their full support.
In the meantime, go kiss your babies. Snuggle a nephew. Read to a niece. Take them to get their vaccinations. Or if you don't want to vaccinate your kid, take that money and buy a vaccination for a child in Mozambique. Whatever you do, know that you have a choice, you get to decide, you are the luckiest.