To the editor:
Each year, 1.5 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Government spending on foreign aid has proven to be extremely effective, however, in reducing these deaths through vaccine programs and initiatives. The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Initiative, for example, has made great progress since 2000 when it began, saving more than 20.4 million lives from this incredibly contagious disease in total. Still though, every day there continue to be 246 child deaths from measles — deaths that we can prevent with a simple MMR vaccine.
While many of these children die in countries across the ocean, measles (just like any disease) knows no borders. In fact, the Twin Cities just recently experienced its own measles outbreak only one year ago. Of the 8,000 people who were exposed to the disease, 75 of those were infected, and 22 needed to be hospitalized. In 2017, this was the largest measles outbreak in the country.
As an undergraduate studying Public Health hoping to work with children in the future, I have a strong interest in ensuring every child and family have access to basic health necessities like the MMR vaccine that will help them grow up to live a healthy life. With World Immunization Week quickly approaching (April 22-28), now more than ever is an opportune time to act by calling, emailing, or even tweeting at your member of congress to ask them to support the MMR Initiative by strengthening funding for programs like UNICEF, Gavi, and USAID. In today's global society, immunizations impact everyone's lives, which is why we need to act now.