Each year 1.5 million children die of vaccine-preventable diseases. One in five children around the world still lacks access to basic childhood immunizations. Immunizations are one of the most proven and cost-effective ways to keep children healthy around the world.  

From Jan. 1 to Oct. 3, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1,250 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 31 states. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992. More than 75 percent of the cases this year are linked to outbreaks in New York. These outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries such as Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring.

Here are some important facts to know about the spread of measles:

  • The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world.
  • Travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.
  • Measles can cause serious complications. From Jan. 1-Oct. 3, 2019, 119 of the people who got measles this year were hospitalized, and 61 reported having complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis.

Access to vaccines may not be an issue for children in North Carolina. However, many children around the world lack access, leaving them vulnerable to deadly outbreaks.  Luckily, most children in the United States will not die from measles; however, children in other regions may lack access to quality healthcare and receiving vaccines can be the difference between life and death. We have the tools and the means to stop the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.

The United Nation’s Shot@Life is working to increase access to lifesaving childhood vaccinations with the goal of eliminating childhood deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases. Diseases know no borders, and in an increasingly globalized world, diseases can spread from remote locations to population centers in mere hours. Increasing access to vaccines abroad not only saves the lives of millions of children worldwide, but also helps protect us from the spread of diseases like measles.

Shot@Life’s 2019 “Race to Erase” campaign is asking U.S. legislators to help reduce vaccine-preventable childhood deaths around the world by providing adequate funding for global vaccine programs.

Once again this year, as a volunteer Shot@Life Champion, I urge you to contact the offices of Congressman Butterfield and Senators Burr and Tillis. Please ask them to prioritize and even strengthen funding for global vaccine programs through partners such as UNICEF, the United Nations, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), CDC, and USAID that help deliver lifesaving vaccines to children around the world.

We all have a stake in the outcome, and parents around the world will sleep more soundly knowing their children are protected.

LINDA BROWNE

GFWC Warrenton Woman’s Club member

Macon