A recent Pantagraph article addressed current measles outbreaks in the United States and the McLean County response to this growing public health crisis. The article importantly mentioned that before the measles vaccine was introduced, 495 people died annually of measles in the U.S. and widespread vaccination decreased cases by 99 percent countrywide.
While recent domestic outbreaks are incredibly concerning, we must remember that in many parts of the world, children continue to die of this deadly disease simply because they lack access to the lifesaving measles vaccine. The Measles & Rubella Initiative reports in 2017 nearly 300 children died every day from measles. On a recent trip to Uganda with the United Nations Foundation, I witnessed how difficult it can be for families to travel miles to get vaccinated and how challenging it is to keep vaccines cold and viable throughout transport and storage in low-resource health systems.
U.S. investment in global immunization programs is vital to getting vaccines to children who need them most around the world. The United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign is asking U.S. legislators to help reduce vaccine-preventable childhood deaths by adequately funding global vaccine programs in the foreign aid budget. Call Sen. Duckworth and Sen. Durbin’s offices and ask them to prioritize funding for global vaccine programs through partners such as UNICEF, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), CDC, and USAID.
With World Immunization Week coming up April 24-30, now is the perfect time to use your voice and help save the lives of children around the world.
Emilee Gibson, Bloomington