Prioritize funding for vaccine programs

Cook County is one of the most likely places in the country to see the next big measles outbreak, according to a research study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases this spring. The researchers said that finding was due in large part to the number of international flights to Chicago from locations where parents do not have access to vaccines for their children.

That means that access to vaccines around the globe could directly impact those of us who call the Chicago area home.

Shot@Life, a United Nations Foundation organization, is working to increase access to lifesaving childhood vaccinations with the goal of eliminating childhood deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases. Diseases know no borders, and in an increasingly globalized world, diseases can spread from remote locations to population centers in mere hours.

Increasing access to vaccines abroad not only saves the lives of millions of children worldwide, but also helps protect Illinoisans from the spread of diseases like measles. It can also mean eradicating diseases like polio. World Polio Day is Thursday, Oct. 24, and with a new outbreak in the Philippines, we need to focus more than ever on making this disease a thing of the past.

We have the tools and the means to stop the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases. I encourage you to reach out to Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to ask them to prioritize funding for global health programs such as the United Nations, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, CDC and USAID that help deliver lifesaving vaccines to children around the world.

Shannan Younger


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