The UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign brought 118 mothers to Capitol Hill last month to meet with their elected officials about supporting global vaccination programs.
The group is pushing for universal immunization for preventable diseases such as polio, measles, pneumonia, and rotavirus that are still very much a threat to children in the developing world.
Every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease, resulting in 1.5 million preventable deaths per year. Despite some amazing successes in immunization programs, 1 in 5 children in the world still lack access to the most common vaccines.
“This issue really resonates with American mothers,” Shot@Life Director Devi Thomas said, “We’re talking about the universality of motherhood.”
These advocates aren’t overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem because they know that it’s easily solvable. Increased funding for global vaccination programs targeting the most vulnerable saves lives. 75% of the world’s unvaccinated children live in just ten countries. Foreign aid comprises one percent of the federal budget, and only a portion of that is allocated toward global health programs. The Shot@Life moms know how much good is accomplished with that tiny budget and they vehemently defend it against spending cuts proposed under the guise of balancing the budget.
Armed with this information, they marched to Capitol Hill and held meetings with 100 senators and representatives in just one day.
But they aren’t just active in Washington, D.C. Shot@Life is spreading their message about life-saving vaccines to every state. They have been recruiting activist moms at PTA meetings, blogger conventions, and among global health organizations all over the country, enlisting 300 ambassadors who held 131 events in 43 states last year alone. They also hold meetings and trainings where moms learn how to blog, use social media, and fundraise to raise awareness for the cause.
– Jordan N. Hunt