Giving Kids a Shot@Life

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to attend a conference hosted by the UN Foundation about their new campaign: Shot@Life. The conference was attended by over 40 ( and a few brave men) women from around the country who are global health advocates, entrepreneurs or leaders in their communities. Many of them spoke of how quickly they learned that you can make a big impact with a small effort, no matter where you live.

Beautiful girl just got vaccinated thanks to the campaign. Photo Credit: UN Foundation

The central theme of the UN Foundation’s campaign is milestones; this basic idea that we all take for granted that children deserve to reach milestones. Living here, we take for granted that our newborns will soon discover their toes, then before we know it, begin to crawl, walk, toss food and throw epic temper tantrums. For millions of women in developing countries, the story is quite different and much of that has to do with the lack of access to childhood vaccines. The Shot@Life campaign reminds us that globally, mothers are the same, in our wish to watch our children pass these milestones and by giving as little as $20, we can help make healthy childhood a possibility for children who otherwise don’t have access to immunizations against diseases like measels, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio. This really moving 1 minute video sums it up. I hope you’ll watch.

Here are some quick facts from the UN Foundation:

  • Some moms walk as far as 15 miles to reach life-saving vaccines for their children
  • The number of children dying every year from preventable diseases in developing countries is nearly equivalentn to half the children entering Kindergarten in the U.S.
  • One child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine.
  • “Germs don’t need a passport” – with so many unvaccinated children globally, dieases that have otherwise been eliminated here – like measels – can return.  In fact, at the conference I learned that Europe is seeing an outbreak of measels – I’m talking France and Switzerland.
  • For the cost of a week’s worth of coffee, you can give a child a liftetime of immunity from deadly disease.

So what can you do? The Shot@Life campaign is building a movement to empower Americans to advocate for global childhood vaccines. Having grown up overseas, I grew up amazed with how US-focused so many Americans are – few people understood where Jakarta was when we lived there in the 80s and I would watch others’ eyes glaze over when we  mentioned where in the world Jakarta was located. The reality is, much has changed since I grew up overseas and we really are living in a global economy and what happens beyond our borders is relevant to us. If you have interest in supporting this campaign, know that any amount can make a difference:

  • $5 protects a child from polio and measels for his lifetime
  • $15 pays for vaccines to protect a child from pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the most deadly diseases
  • $40 gives two children a lifetime of immunity from pneumonia, diarrhea, polio and measels
  • $60 protects three children from these four diseases for life

And, in the end, this campaign is about the mothers as much as it is the children. This idea of taking watching our kids reach their milestones for granted really resonated with me and days later, I can’t stop thinking about it. Look for more from me on this topic down the road!

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