Did you know that pneumonia is the single largest cause of childhood deaths worldwide? It killed nearly a million children under the age of five in 2013. The vast majority of these deaths occur in developing countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and they are vaccine-preventable.
I am passionate about global childhood health and immunizations because all children deserve a shot at life. That staggering number of child deaths from pneumonia is simply unacceptable. As we approach World Pneumonia Day on November 12, I’d like to share a few more reasons why I am a Shot@Life Champion and a strong supporter of global vaccines.
First, as a mother, the greatest gift I have is my child. I know that the desire to see your child grow up and have the opportunity to reach his/her full potential trumps all else.
Moms share a common bond, and you don’t have to speak their language or live in their community to understand the primal desire they have to see their babies grow up.
As an American, I am incredibly grateful for the ease with which I can vaccinate my child. With privilege comes responsibility, and I feel it is my responsibility to work so that others can have the same health opportunities.
I have heard and witnessed the stories of other mothers who are desperate to see their child reach age five and beyond. They have to travel far and through extreme conditions to get their children the vaccines that make that possible. Their commitment and struggle underscores the value they place on these vaccines.
As a global citizen, I want to make the world a better and more peaceful place. Women are key to achieving those goals. Women who are preoccupied with worries about their children’s health, however, are not in a position to be the change makers because their attention is obviously focused on their precious babies, as it should be.
Eliminating those worries and making sure their children live to see age give and beyond makes it possible for them to focus on the future. That will benefit not only them and their families but also their broader communities and countries and ultimately, the world.
As an optimist, I care about this issue because it is one where progress is being made. However, more progress is possible. There are wins to celebrate, and encouraging work being done to achieve even bigger wins. It is also an area where small actions can have a big impact. I love that all people can feel empowered to help make a difference.
That’s why I am a strong supporter of global vaccines. What reasons would you add to the list?
This World Pneumonia Day, let’s do what we can to make sure all children have the immunizations they need to grow up strong and healthy.
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