I was recently introduced to Shot@Life. Shot@Life, a movement to help give children around the world a shot at celebrating their first birthday, is celebrating its first birthday.
Around the world, a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine. Yes, you read that correctly…a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine.
Seventy percent of all unvaccinated children live in just 10 developing countries. Though it may seem these children are a world away, they aren’t much different than the children in our own lives.
Shot@Life has Champions throughout the globe. Shot@Life Champions are individuals who dedicate their voice, time and support to stand up for childhood in developing countries. They believe in the importance of vaccines and are represented by a diverse group of moms, dads and students.
To help Shot@Life celebrate its first year, I agreed to interview a Shot@Life Champion and had the privilege of speaking with an amazing woman. Meet Felisa Hilbert.
Felisa lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and is a vibrant, friendly and dedicated community organizer and education advocate with a heart for helping people. She grew up in Mexico and was a registered nurse in rural Mexico. You can also find Felisa at her blog No Parents Left Behind.
Felisa learned about Shot@Life from being an Oklahoma Mom Congress Delegate and a trip she took to Washington D.C. As a former nurse and her experience in rural healthcare, she knew immediately Shot@Life was a perfect fit for her.
“I’ll never forget the child who came to the hospital in rural Mexico suffering from rotavirus symptoms,” Felisa recalled. “By the time the child’s mother endured a three hour bus trip and brought her child to the hospital, there was nothing we could do. I felt powerless and a vaccine would have made the difference.”
Felisa declared, “I don’t want another mother to go through losing a child from a preventable disease.”
Since Felisa has been involved with Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation, she has raised awareness through her community and the state of Oklahoma. She spoke on the the topic of global vaccinations at the National PTA conference. We discussed her speech topic as being relevant as children accross America are required to have their immunizations current to attend school.
“There are pockets of children in the U.S. who are not immunized, but overall we take our vaccines and the ease of obtaining them for granted.” Felisa mentioned, “The number of children dying every year from preventable diseases in developing countries is nearly equivalent to half the children entering kindergarten in the U.S.”
“Every child deserves a shot at a healthy life, no matter were they live. Yet, 75 percent of unvaccinated children live in just 10 countries,” Felisa addressed the global disparity.
She experienced the present-day dire need for childhood immunizations first hand on a United Nations sponsored trip to Uganda. Felisa stressed that in the U.S. we may have poverty, but we don’t have kids dying from preventable diseases. “Vaccinations are not a national issue, vaccinations are a global issue.” Felisa said.
She explained that we are living in a global society. “It only takes one person to come in contact with you or you visiting another country to spread preventable diseases.”
Felisa said. “You can make a difference. Whether you contact your senator, congressman or skip coffee for the day and donate $5. Every thing we do counts.”
She told me it takes $20 to give one child four life-saving vaccines.
Children are disabled or killed every year by vaccine-preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio. Pneumonia and diarrhea are the two biggest killers of children under five, and account for more than one-third of childhood deaths worldwide. Polio has recently reemerged in areas that had been polio-free for years and measles still kills an estimated 450 people each day–the majority of whom are young children.
You can join Shot@Life here. You can learn more about the need of global vaccinations at Shot@Life and the partnerships the United Nations Foundations has made to connect people, ideas and resources to get vaccines to kids around the world.
Give your kids a hug. Isn’t it a relief that our immunizations are so organized and efficient in the U.S.? I’m always impressed that Arkansas has everything recorded electronically and they help me keep track of it. The documentation is much different than my handwritten card I had growing up…where is that? (That’s another story.)
Can you imagine not having access to life-saving childhood vaccinations? What are your thoughts?
To Felisa, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to allow me to interview you for this post. You are a delight and so inspiring.