I know my kids have been born with more than just a leg-up on success; they have nothing holding them back. They come from a home that values education and kindness and family. Not one day in their short lives has been spent worrying about food availability or secure shelter. They have a trusted pediatrician who has been with them since the day they were born, and that means they have received life-saving vaccines and medicines so that my main job as their mother is to nurture them.
“Vaccines make life possible. Without them, children are vulnerable to deadly and disabling diseases like measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio.
Unfortunately, around the world, one in five children still lack access to the life-saving immunizations that help keep children in the U.S. healthy. In fact, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine. By expanding access to vaccines, we can prevent 1.5 million child deaths each year.”
That’s why I’m joining Shot@Life to celebrate their first birthday and World Immunization Week (April 24-30). Today my contribution is to bring you the story of one of Shot@Life’s Champions. Her name is Elizabeth Atalay, and she writes over at documama.org. She has seen more than 50 countries and is now an advocate for mothers and children all over the world.
Here is why she chose to support Shot@Life:
Shot@Life raises awareness and cultivates advocates to help get life-saving vaccines to those who need them the most. Shot@Life also raises funds to work with partners such as GAVI and USAID to help provide those vaccines globally to give all children a shot at a healthy life. It was natural as a mother that when I began blogging about social good and global issues on documama, my focus was on maternal and child health. When I learned the statistics about how many lives could be saved with access to vaccines, I felt compelled to get involved. Friends Jennifer Burden, founder of World Moms Blog, and Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom had become some of the first Shot@Life Champions, and they told me about the Shot@Life Summit. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to reach out and do something that could have real impact in the lives of mothers and children around the world.
Once you become a mother, you gain a real empathy for other mothers and children. We all love our children above all else. We understand the magnitude of what it would mean to lose a child due to a preventable disease like diarrhea. Once other mothers know that children are dying from preventable diseases, and they can actually do something to help, I would think they would want to. So, in my mind, the biggest hurdle is awareness. So many mothers just don’t realize that they can have an impact and save the lives of babies and children without even donating money. Just by giving their voice and letting congress know they care, they can help.
Listen, I know you’re busy with your own kids/jobs/houses/stress, and though the thought of babies dying from something treatable like measles makes you sad, it’s hard to commit yourself to yet another to-do. But this is more than that. And it’s easier than running the school bake sale. You can write letters. You can voice your support on all your social media platforms. Get your high school children interested. Spread the word to your favorite health professionals. Please, let’s do what we can to give all kids, not just ones born in prosperous areas, a Shot@Life and a shot at doing something great like learning to love books.