We must also strengthen global vaccine programs

Updated 4/22/2019 1:26 PM

With seven cases of measles in Illinois, I am more grateful than ever that there is a vaccine to prevent this disease. I'm thankful that we all enjoy easy access to lifesaving immunizations, but I'm also aware that many in the world are not nearly as fortunate as we are.

When I traveled to Uganda last summer, I spoke with mothers who had to walk or bike for several miles to get to clinics where their children could get the shots they need. While taking a full day off was a hardship for them, they were so happy to know their children would be protected, as they had seen children who had not been immunized suffer.


One in five children in the world still lacks access to the basic childhood vaccines we take for granted here in the United States.

Great strides have been made over the last decade to give more families access to immunizations for their children. The measles vaccine alone has prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths from 2000- 2015, a 79 percent reduction.

We cannot stop now and lose the significant gains we've made. In addition to the moral and humanitarian impact, giving children around the world access to immunizations increases global and national security. In today's interconnected world, these deadly diseases don't stop at borders.

This year, on World Immunization Week, the last week in April, United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign is asking U.S. legislators to help reduce vaccine preventable childhood deaths around the world by providing adequate funding for global vaccine programs.

Ask your federal lawmakers to strengthen and prioritize funding for global vaccine programs through partners such as United Nations, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), CDC, and USAID. We all have a stake in the outcome. Parents around the world will sleep more soundly knowing their children are protected.

Shannan Younger


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