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Reflecting on my first Spring Summit

In late February, over 100 advocates from across the United States gathered in D.C. for the Advocate to Vaccinate Spring Summit. This year, I was lucky enough to join for my first time. 


I first attended the Shot@Life virtual summit in Fall 2023 and was inspired by the discussions and talented speakers. During the Mobilize to Immunize advocacy period in 2023, I met with my representatives virtually, called their offices, and even published a letter to the editor. However, the Advocate to Vaccinate Spring Summit was different. It was a combination of my advocacy experiences in the fall – engaging speakers and inspiring discussions, plus meeting with my representatives in their offices.  

Preparing to advocate

On Monday, February 26, Champions heard from speakers on a variety of topics, such as how health policies impact vaccine programs, the current global vaccine situation, firsthand experiences with polio vaccination efforts, the new HPV vaccine, and an overview of the appropriations process. However, for me the highlight was the keynote address from Dr. Peter Hotez. Dr. Hotez is a scientist, pediatrician, vaccine advocate, and author who became the subject of international attention for his work during the pandemic. His address focused on advancing science while simultaneously combating the anti-science movement and emphasized the miraculous scientific advancements in the vaccine field during his lifetime. Dr. Hotez emphasized understanding the anti-science movement and how their focus has changed, and that it’s only by understanding where people are coming from that we can begin to change minds. Ultimately, just as working with people and not for them is what led to the creation of the first halal Covid vaccine in Indonesia, talking with people and not for or about them is what will help people understand the importance of vaccine equity. 

On the Hill

After the first day of speakers, we were ready to go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to apply our newfound knowledge. Tuesday morning, we first heard from Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island as he received a Congressional Champion Award from Shot@Life, and then went straight to the Hill. Over 160 congressional offices were reached by Shot@Life Champions hailing from 37 different states – that’s nearly one-third of all of Congress hearing from us in just one day. I had the chance to advocate with three other Champions from Connecticut, and we met with the offices of both our senators and each of our representatives. It was my first time ever advocating in-person with Shot@Life, but as the day went on, I grew in confidence. I was inspired seeing how each office committed to supporting global health equity in specific, targeted ways, and knowing that these efforts will save lives. 

Wednesday morning, we discussed our meetings and the successes we’d seen, and heard from a few final speakers who discussed the intersections of global health with timely issues like AI and climate change. We also honored Lukia Beverly, a Shot@Life Champion who was passionate and devoted to her advocacy, and recognized Champions who have been with Shot@Life for over a decade. I was inspired by the efforts of my fellow Champions, and their constant dedication to ensuring every child everywhere has a shot at a healthy life. As we prepared for the next advocacy period, Advocate to Vaccinate, which starts soon, I was overcome with excitement and hope for the future. Greater global health equity is possible, and the Shot@Life 2024 Spring Summit gave me the tools to fight for it. 

If you’re interested in becoming involved with Shot@Life and advocating with us this spring, sign up here for a training. And on behalf of the entire Shot@Life team, thank you for your commitment to global childhood immunization programs and giving children everywhere a shot at life. 


Mary Singer

Mary Singer is the Grassroots Intern for the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. She is a current undergraduate student at Brigham Young University, where she is majoring in Political Science. She recently completed a ten-month volunteer mission in Oakland, California, where she served full-time in the community. Mary is passionate about international relations and development, and is excited to be at Shot@Life this year.