Over the past few weeks, families across the United States sent their children off to school for the very first time. Mothers and fathers packed lunch boxes, wiped away nervous tears, and waved goodbye from the bus stop or outside the classroom.
Now imagine if nearly half the children who just started kindergarten were to die of a disease that could have been be prevented by a vaccine. That’s how many children die each year in developing countries because they don’t get the shots they need. Something so routine in the U.S. – vaccination – often means the difference between life and death in other parts of the world.
The good news is that we have the solution to prevent these 1.7 million deaths each year. Vaccines work.
They are safe, simple, and one of the most cost-effective tools we have to save and improve the lives of children in developing countries.
Coordinated worldwide vaccination efforts have already made significant progress in scaling up access to vaccines. The Measles Initiative has vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries since 2001, decreasing world measles deaths by 78 percent. The world is 99 percent polio-free, and polio eradication is within reach. New vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea have the potential to save millions more children.
Still, one in five children in developing countries does not receive life-saving vaccines. We must do more here in the United States to reach this “fifth child.”
To help, the United Nations Foundation and its partners are launching the Shot@Life campaign to expand access to vaccines for children in develop countries. Through Shot@Life, Americans can use their voice, support, and time to give children around the world a shot at more firsts.
When a child begins life with the protection of vaccines, we open the door for her growth and development – her first steps, first words, first day of kindergarten. She is more likely to celebrate birthdays, do well in school and go on to be a productive, healthy adult.
To help us help her and millions of children like her, go to http://shotatlife.org.