By Jordan Savold, communications and research fellow at the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition and United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life Champion
World Immunization Week is held each year during the last week of April to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
Photo: United Nations Foundation, Shot@Life
Did you know that one in five children worldwide lacks access to important, life-saving vaccines?
This means that around the world, every 20 seconds a child will die from a vaccine preventable disease. The number of children dying every year from preventable diseases in developing countries is equivalent to nearly half the children entering kindergarten in the U.S.
To kick off the 8th annual S.O.U.P! (Shots Offer Unrivaled Protection) fundraiser for the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition (CCIC), Amy Purdy posed an intriguing question:
“If your life was a book and you were the author, how would you want your story to go?”
If you happen to drive by Fire Station #2 in Aurora on a certain Saturday of the month, you might see a long line of families extending from the entry way. Once a month, immunizations are provided at little to no cost at this fire station through Shots for Tots and Teens program to help ensure that everyone has an opportunity to live a safe, healthy life free from vaccine-preventable disease.
On a recent Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the event myself. Here’s what happened.
By Elizabeth Abbott
Just over 30 years ago, at 15 months of age, I was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis as a result of Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) infection. The vaccine that protects against Hib had not yet been introduced. At that time, Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children under five years of age in the U.S. Each year, about 20,000 children under five years got severe Hib disease, and about 1,000 died. As many as 1 out of 5 children survivors of Hib meningitis end up with brain damage or become deaf.
Since vaccine introduction in the late 1980s, the number of cases of invasive Hib disease has decreased by more than 99 percent. By 2012, less than 50 U.S. cases of Hib disease occurred each year in children under five, and most cases we see today are the result of parents choosing not to vaccinate. While some parents may believe their child is not at risk of rare Hib infection, the bacteria still exists and can cause severe harm through the diseases it causes.
In honor of World Meningitis Day (April 24) and National Infant Immunization Week (April 18-25), I sat down with my beautiful mother to remember the “traumatic experience” she faced as her child overcame this life-threatening illness. Read more