Global Immunization: A Mother’s Call to Give All Children a Shot at Life

April 25th, 2014

by Devi R. Thomas
Shot@Life Campaign
United Nations Foundation

My parents migrated to North America from India, a country that has seen recent success in eradicating harmful childhood diseases like polio, but for many years struggled to provide millions of people with access to vaccines.

When my sister and I were born, our parents proudly took us to receive our vaccine against a disease they had seen so many suffer from. Now, as a mother of two young boys, I see the link between my own survival and that of my sons as well as the millions of children who go on to experience childhood milestones.  How can you deny a child a healthy shot at life?

As Director for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, I can give you all the stats and figures.

  • Around the world, a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine preventable disease.
  • One in five children are dying before age five from a disease that is preventable.
  • Two of the biggest killers of children under five years old are pneumonia and diarrhea, accounting for more than one-third of childhood deaths worldwide.

There are many more statistics and figures I could share, but as a mom what breaks my heart is to meet these mothers who will walk for miles to receive what are, to us, routine vaccinations.  They proudly display their pink immunization card and carry it close, remembering those infants and young children who died because they couldn’t get them to a health clinic to receive their vaccinations.

The Shot@Life campaign is a testament to the universality of motherhood. Our efforts to further the work of the United Nations and partners to deliver these vaccines to children in need could not be done without the support of so many here at home.

Mothers have a voice.  Mothers have the power to inspire change.  The action can be simple. 
You can educate your friends and family about the need for global immunizations.  You can call your member of Congress and tell them to support global vaccines or you can raise money to give a child a healthy shot at life.

And we are making real progress!  This year, India celebrated the eradication of polio.  Measles vaccination worldwide resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012.  We can make a difference.

As we reflect on the importance of infant immunizations during National Infant Immunization Week, I challenge mothers to think about the children around the globe who lack access to these life-saving vaccines.  Please join me and our entire Shot@Life community and take action to support global immunizations and ensure that every child around the world has a healthy shot at life.