You can’t protect your children from everything. You can’t wave a magic wand and force other kids to play with them on the playground, you can’t make their crushes like them back, and you can’t keep the training wheels on forever. But as a mother, you do everything in your power to prevent what you can. Most of us are incredibly fortunate in that we have access to every day necessities for our children – water, food, shelter – and life-saving vaccines.
Caring for your child’s health begins before he or she is born. When a woman finds out she is pregnant, to keep her unborn baby healthy, she makes sure she stays healthy – getting the proper nutrition, getting enough rest, and not getting sick.
But not every mother has access to these important things. Every five minutes, a baby is born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), a vaccine-preventable disease.
Rubella is the leading infectious disease cause of birth defects. When a pregnant woman becomes infected during her first trimester of pregnancy, there is a 90% chance her baby will be born with CRS, if the baby survives at all. A baby born with CRS can have multiple defects including heart disorders, blindness, deafness, or brain damage. Here in the U.S., we are fortunate; rubella has been eliminated since 2015, but it is still prevalent in six countries around the world. The recent outbreaks of measles and Ebola remind us that in today’s interconnected world, the threat of these diseases resurfacing in the U.S. is real. To fully eliminate diseases like measles and rubella, we have to reach every child, including the hardest to reach. We have to give mothers everywhere the chance of welcoming a healthy baby into this world.
For less effort than it takes to buy a bouquet of tulips, this Mother’s Day, we can do our part to make sure mothers everywhere have access to life-saving vaccines. Now that is something truly worth celebrating!