Sunday, March 15, 2015

Nurses Are Standing Up for Children Everywhere

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.
What we accomplished at the 2015 Shot@Life Champion Summit in Washington, D.C. strengthened our ability to continue our work at home to give every child a shot at healthy life.

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.

Advocate2Vaccinate 2015
You can learn more about Advocate2Vaccinate next week. Mark your calendars to participate and register for the introductory webinar on Thursday, March 26 at 8 p.m. EST at!

Together, we can all stand up for children everywhere.


  1. Great post, Melody. Will pass this along.

  2. Love reading your post Melody, beautiful recap from an awesome summit.

  3. Refusing to Vaccinate

    As pediatric nurses, we are well aware of children’s increased susceptibility to infection. In addition to their limited exposure to illness and less than perfect hygiene, immunization compliance impacts a child’s immune system as well. Vaccine access and the decision to receive or refuse immunization is dependent upon parents’ socioeconomic status, personal beliefs about safety, need, and effectiveness, as well as adherence to the vaccination schedule. Unfortunately, the refusal or delay of immunizations places other children at risk as well. Children unable to receive vaccines because they are too young or have an immature immune system pay the price for anti-vaccine advocates while their children often benefit from herd immunity and remain disease free.

    CDC Immunization Schedule:

    Nurse have a responsibility to promote wellness and protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases. As a patient advocate, addressing parent concerns, providing appropriate education and obtaining necessary resources are essential to illness prevention. Refusing immunizations place themselves and children unable to receive vaccinations, either due to age or medical exemption, at risk for developing disease.

    Sample Religious Exemption Form:

    Elimination of religious exemptions are necessary for the health and well-being of the public. Despite multiple attempts to educate and correct misconceptions, some parents continue putting others at risk. Protecting the public from preventable diseases with potentially dangerous adverse effects should take precedence over “religious freedom.” Immunization compliance is a matter of public safety. Allowing parents to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children has caused outbreaks of diseases, such as measles, that were previously eliminated by the development of safe and effective immunizations.

    AAP. (2013). Addressing common concerns of vaccine-hesitant parents. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from
    CDC. (2012). Talking with parents about vaccines for infants. Center for Disease Control. Retrieved from
    IAC. (2011). What if you don’t immunize your child? Immunization Action Coalition. Retrieved from
    IAC. (2014). Personal belief exemptions for vaccination put people at risk. Examine the evidence for yourself. Immunization Action Coalition. Retrieved from
    NACCHO. (2013). Eliminating personal belief exemptions from immunization requirements for child care and school attendance. The National Connection for Local and Public Health. Retrieved from
    Silverman, R. (2003). No more kidding around: Restructuring non-medical childhood immunization exemptions to ensure public health protection. Annals of Health Law, 12(2), 277-294. Retrieved from

  4. Vaccinations are a powerful, proven tool in our fight to prevent childhood infections. Because of the widespread use of vaccines in the United States, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of children who suffer from deadly diseases such as polio, chickenpox, hepatitis B and whooping cough. A child who isn’t vaccinated is at risk for infections that physicians in the United States may have never seen. A likely example is polio, which still flourishes in developing countries that lack a strong vaccine program. It only takes a plane ride for an infection to migrate to this country and infect an unvaccinated child. If we stop vaccinating against these diseases, other people, not only children, may become infected. I believe vaccinating children with all the recommended vaccines, on schedule, is one of the safest and most advanced means of preventing infection.

  5. It really is amazing that this has become such an issue. Especially considering how vital it is that children get immunized so that they can live full, happy lives. I'm glad there is such a push to raise public awareness and help these children. Thanks so much for writing!

  6. Wow! Really moving article! I never knew that pneumonia was a huge cause of death in children. My close friend had a sister with pneumonia, it was definitely a hard time for her!

  7. You definitely got to check out this little article about Us nursing schools and their basic programs.

  8. Vaccination play a vital role in kids health. They help strengthen their immunity in early childhood when babies are more susceptible to life threatening diseases. There has been a remarkable decrease in the cases of vaccine preventable diseases as compare to the pre-vaccination era however misconception spread regarding vaccination haunts parents. Parents rely on the information received from their family healthcare providers and nursing staff and the such events can encourage nursing and healthcare professionals to raise awareness and resolve the misconception few parents have for vaccination.