Last year, I hosted my first Shot@Life event with the help of my colleagues from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. We educated students and community members in a fun and creative way about the importance of global vaccinations. After that event, I knew I wanted to stay involved, so I was excited for the opportunity to attend the Shot@Life Champion Summit in Washington, DC this spring.
The summit kicked off with an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) roundtable, where I met ten other pediatricians who were equally passionate about global childhood immunizations. Over the next few days, I networked with nearly 100 Shot@Life Champions from across the country. It was great to hear each Champion’s story about why they got involved with the campaign. As a pediatric resident, it’s easy to focus strictly on science and medicine, but the Shot@Life Champion Summit opened my eyes to the many stories of parents and survivors of vaccine-preventable diseases.
The highlight of the Summit was going to Capitol Hill with my fellow Shot@Life Champions from Illinois and advocating for continued support for global childhood immunization. We shared personal stories and facts about life-saving childhood vaccines. I focused on the successes in global health- including the 99% worldwide eradication of polio and what we could do to eliminate that final one percent – all while displaying a small fuzzy polio microbe.
Another highlight for me was learning all about social media. Before Shot@Life, I thought I was doing pretty well with my Gmail and Facebook accounts. Now I am active on twitter and instagram, and this is my second blog! I never realized how easy it is to advocate by posting a picture or tweeting a message on global immunization. As I expand my networks, I am excited to stay engaged with these new platforms and meet more Champions.