Thursday, May 16, 2013

A message from Ugandan 1st graders: Immunize

Who do you listen to for vaccination advice and expertise? Doctors? Friends? Jenny McCarthy? Personally, I tend toward the science, but today I offer another opinion for you to consider. A group of people with very loud voices that don't get heard by Americans very much: Ugandan children.

I had the honor of meeting some when I traveled to Uganda with the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign last October to learn about vaccine programs with UNICEF. These children are are young, they are small, but they know something about disease. They know that friends and family can die from measles. They know that polio makes people limp permanently...or worse. And that makes them wiser than us in a way. It's been just a few generations since polio and measles have been epidemics in our country, but that has been enough to erase the horrible effects from the collective consciousness of the wealthiest nations. Time and the miraculous preventative powers of vaccines have allowed us to forget. What a dangerous thing. Forgetting things like that start to lead us from away from scientists' and doctors' advice about how to avoid such horrors. But measles and polio are still in the minds of the children I met and their teachers. They should be on ours as well.

Since 1988, polio cases worldwide have been reduced by 99 percent. But it has recently reemerged in areas that had been polio-free for years. We are at the crossroads of being able to eradicate polio from our planet...or backsliding so that the progress of brave polio vaccine workers gradually erodes and lets the disease back into our world. Measles still kills an estimated 450 people each day worldwide- the majority of whom are young children.

So, please, click on the video and listen to their voices. Add theirs to the input of vaccine information you take in. If their message moves you, join Shot@Life to help spread the word that, together, we can save children's lives around the world.

"Immunization is the best
Immunize, Immunize, Immunize
Immunize all children against polio and measles
Polio makes us limp
Measles has killed many children
Parents, take your children for immunizations
Teachers, teach about immunization
Because it is the answer to our health"

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