World Immunization Week will be observed April 24-30. Most all of us who follow the news have probably heard or read the recent headline stories that 2019 is shaping up to be a very bad year for measles in the United States. This completely preventable disease was eradicated in 2000 but has made a startling comeback in the past decade. More people have gotten measles in the first three months of 2019 than in all of 2018. It’s not just the U.S. that has outbreaks. Measles is making a global comeback.
One and a half million children die each year from diseases, like measles, that could have been prevented by a vaccine. This is because, shockingly, one in five children in the world still lacks access to the basic childhood vaccines we take for granted here in the United States.
Great strides have been made over the last decade to give more families access to immunizations for their children. According to the World Health Organization, “Measles vaccination resulted in a 80 percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2017 worldwide.” We cannot stop now and lose the significant gains we’ve made. This is a problem with a solution…so we must act!
In addition to the moral and humanitarian impact, giving children around the world access to immunizations increases global and our national security. Today’s world is so interconnected that these deadly diseases don’t stop at borders, as demonstrated by recent measles outbreaks. For every $1 spent on childhood immunizations, you get $44 in economic benefits. That includes saving the money that families lose when a child is sick and a parent can’t work.
The United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life 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 the United Nations, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), CDC, and USAID.
We all have a stake in the outcome, and parents around the world will sleep more soundly knowing their children are protected.
GFWC Warrenton Woman’s Club member