Earlier this month, Shot@Life Champions gathered in our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C., to advocate for global childhood immunization programs. Over one hundred volunteers were there to help more children celebrate their 5th birthday by protecting them against vaccine preventable diseases. Nurses Who Vaccinate members were there among American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), General Federation of Women's Clubs (GWFC), parents, and professional nannies. Together, we met with legislators, attended educational sessions and worked to plan ways to mobilize our communities to take an active participation in helping the United Nations and partners to eliminate childhood deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.
We had the honor of meeting and hearing from inspirational speakers about UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation, the CDC, even the Ambassador of the United Republic of Tarzania to the United States.
We worked and listened to Paralympian Dennis Ogbe, who contracted polio at age 3 in his native Nigeria. He eventually regained full mobility in one leg and went on to compete in track and field
You can read more about Ogbe and his life story here in an article on CNN.
|Paralympian Dennis Ogbe|
We met Shot@Life Global Advocate Jo Frost, well known for her role on Supernanny and Extreme Parental Guidance. She advocates for several children and family issues, including food allergies and joined the Shot@Life team as a Global Advocate last year. She personally with Congressman about how in developing countries, parents have many burdens ans obstacles standing in the way of their children accessing vaccines.
|NWV Patti .W, Jo Frost, NWV Melody B., NWV Andrea Riley|
We had the opportunity to discuss the global issue of access to vaccines with congressmen, congresswomen and their staff. It was an easy conversation to be had- we weren't talking about vaccine choice. We were talking about ways to help parents willing to walk 15 miles to vaccinate their children. It was about preventing 400 daily deaths from measles. We discussed how pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in children worldwide. We were advocating for continued support for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance- that would support funding of more than 100,000 pneumococcal vaccines ad 136,00 rotavirus vaccines. We discussed the need for the Measles & Rubella Initative and it's mission to reduce global deaths from measles by at least 95% by the end of 2015 (as compared with 2000 levels). As nurses, we spoke about how close the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is to ending polio worldwide. (How close? #ThisClose).
As constituents it was vital that our members of congress not only knew we supported these global health initiatives, but we were willing to donate our time to help educate the communities and public about how we can give children everywhere a shot a living a healthy life.
Below are the photos from the New York group who led a very busy day with 5 meetings. We weren't alone though- There were approximately 140 meetings with policymakers on Capitol Hill. An additional 1,100 letters voicing support for global vaccines were sent to Congress while we were on the Capitol Hill, further amplifying our message.
|Office of Congressman Elliot Engel, Heidi Ross, Senior Leg Assist.|
|Office of Senator Chuck Schumer, Morgan Brand, Legislative Assist.|
|Office of Kirsten Gillibrand, Denzel Singletary|
|Congressman Chris Gibson|
|Office of Congressman Steve Israel, Kyle Hill, Leg. Assist.|
|NY Shot@Life Champions|
NWV Melody B, Kelly P, NWV Patti W, Dr. Barbara B, Holly F.
Throughout the summit, Nurses Who Vaccinate members did what we do best- educate! Some of us discussed the science behind vaccines, our involvement with Shot@Life, and establishing relationships with members of congress. A few of us had the opportunity to present our unique perspectives and share knowledge to help fellow Shot@life champions advocate within their communities on behalf of global childhood immunization programs.
|2015 Shot@Life Champion Summit- Washington, D.C.|
But there's plenty you can do right now. It is a perfect time to inform your community and members of congress of the critical value and importance of global childhood vaccines. You'll have an opportunity to join a nationwide event in April called Advocate2Vaccinate. Advocate2Vaccinate 2015 will take place during World Immunization Week, April 24–April 30. As nurses, you can unite with global vaccine champions across the country to reach three collective goals in three areas: building relationships with your representatives, leveraging the media for advocacy and building community support.
Together, we can all stand up for children everywhere.