November 18, 2011 BY Peg Willingham
When I was growing up, I used to ask my parents when Children’s Day was. After all, we had Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but what about a day for children? As you can probably guess, their half-amused, half-exasperated answer was “EVERY day is children’s day!” In fact, though, Universal Children’s Day is November 20, a day when we reflect on and promote the rights and well-being of children around the world. While a great deal of progress has been made in the U.S. and globally to give children better lives, nearly 8 million children under the age of five still die each year mostly from preventable causes.
A quarter of these children’s deaths could be prevented with vaccines. In countries such as India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, access to vaccines means the difference between life and death, a healthy life or a lifetime of struggle. Vaccines open the door to the milestones all children should get to celebrate: their first steps, first words, their first day of school.
With immunization coverage growing from 20 percent to over 80 percent since 1980, access to vaccines globally has grown significantly in the last decade. Yet despite these gains, one in five children around the world still lacks access to the vaccines needed to ward off diseases like measles, pneumonia, polio or diarrhea — and every 20 seconds a child dies because of this gap.
Shot@Life’s goal is to close that gap and to give all children — no matter where they live — an equal chance at a healthy life. With so many children around the world unvaccinated, diseases that have been eliminated in the United States — such as measles — are returning. A healthier world truly benefits us all. Expanding access to vaccines strengthens our ability to fight disease globally and keep our families healthy here at home.
To learn more about how you can be a child’s Shot@Life, please become of fan of us on Facebook and tweet with us @shotatlife.
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