Category Archives: Vaccines

Vaccine Effectiveness – 1980 Through Today

In listening to a talk last week in Atlanta given by Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, the Executive Director, WHO Office at the United Nations in New York, I learned a fascinating statistic about vaccine effectiveness.

In 1980 before the mass roll-out of vaccines there was one child death per second from deadly, yet preventable diseases like pneumonia, rotavirus, and measles. By 2000 the death rate was one death per minute. By 2010 the death rate was one death every four minutes. That shows progress, but the number of child deaths is still too high. By 2015 the United Nations has called for a reduction of child deaths by 2/3. Recent data by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund shows that MDG #4 (Child health) likely will not be reached, but that does not mean progress should slow.

One of the highest priorities in the global health community is to vaccinate children. In fact, it is one of the best global health buys to keep children alive.

“Immunizations have the power to save lives and transform lives,” said Kumaresan. “We can give the opportunity for a child to be healthy and grow without diseases.”

According to Kumaresan in 2010 109 million children were vaccinated with the DPT vaccine that fights against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. 19.3 million children did not receive the vaccines and 70% of those children live in 10 developing countries.

The ultimate goal of global health agencies is to increase the vaccination rate to 90% worldwide in order eradicate these preventable diseases. In the developing world, however, there are challenges intrinsic to immunizing children. Many people live in informal settlements (slums) and in war-torn areas making vaccinations in this areas difficult.

Since 2010 the GAVI Alliance has supported the immunization of 3.6 million children with the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five. GAVI’s mission is to save children’s lives in poor countries through immunization.

The Measles & Rubella Initiative

Five key partners make up the Measles Rubella Initiative including the American Red Cross, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization. These partners have set a strategic plan to reduce measles and rubella to zero by 2020 in at least five WHO regions. According to WHO the plan will be implemented through:

  • high vaccination coverage;
  • monitoring spread of disease using laboratory-backed surveillance;
  • outbreak preparedness and response and measles case management;
  • communication and community engagement; and
  • research and development.

The goal is within reach. In fact sub-Saharan Africa made saw a significant 85% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010 due to vaccinations.

“It’s a moral imperative in today’s world,” said Kumeresan. “Every child should be reached. We need to make vaccines accessible and affordable to the people who need it.”

Shot@Life Campaign Launches in Atlanta

Last week I was in Atlanta on a National Press Foundation and UN Foundation press fellowship to learn more about global vaccines. I along with the nine other fellows received a comprehensive overview of the global vaccines landscape from experts from UNICEF, CDC, the UN Foundation and the United Nations. I will blog about what we learned throughout the week. We also attended the Shot@Life official launch at the Georgia Aquarium last Thursday.

Atlanta area mothers and children learn and share about the value of vaccines during the Shot of Life launch event in Atlanta, Ga., Thursday, April 26, 2012.

Shot@Life (who is a partner of Mom Bloggers for Social Good) educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. A national call to action for this global cause, the campaign rallies the American public, members of Congress, and civil society partners around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines.

Hundreds of Atlanta area families attended the Shot@Life launch at the Georgia Aquarium. Children played games and participated in educational exhibits about Shot@Life and parents were educated about the importance of ensuring that children in developing nations get the lifesaving vaccines they need to live a full life like their own children.

In an official launch ceremony Kathy Calvin, the CEO of the UN Foundation, moderated a panel of vaccine experts and advocates including First Lady Rosalynn Carter, CEO of Every Child by Two, Ambassador Andrew Young, Board Member of the UN Foundation, Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the National Center of Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, and Anne Geddes, world renowned photographer and Shot@Life Global Advocate.

Each panelist talked about their personal stories and ultimate work with vaccine advocacy – either on the national or global level – and expressed why this issue matters to them and other Americans.

A panel of distinguished experts and leaders speak to journalists and partners during the Shot@Life campaign launch in Atlanta, Ga., Thursday, April 26, 2012.

According to Shot@Life, 1 in 5 children around the world does not have access to lifesaving vaccines and a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented. There are some success stories already, however. Polio is nearing eradication with only three countries where the paralysing disease is still endemic – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. India is currently one-year free from any reported polio cases.

Additionally, one billion children have been vaccinated for measles since 2001 decreasing deaths by 74 percent. And Ghana rolled out two new vaccines – pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines – simultaneously last week during World Immunization Week. Ghana’s attention to the importance of vaccines marked the first time the two vaccines were launched at the same time in any African country.

Also announced at the Shot@Life launch was an official media partnership with Real Simple magazine. “In this role, the award-winning Time Inc. Lifestyle Group brand Real Simple is playing a crucial role in raising awareness about the campaign by getting the word out to its millions of readers,” said Elizabeth Gore, the UN Foundation’s Vice President of Global Partnerships.

To learn more about Shot@Life visit www.shotatlife.org.

All Photos: Stuart Ramson/Insider Images for UN Foundation

Heading to Atlanta to Learn More About Global Vaccines

I recently received a National Press Foundation and UN Foundation Global Vaccines Press Fellowship and will be in Atlanta from Wednesday to Thursday this week to learn more about global vaccines from the leading global health organizations, non-profits, and NGOs in the world. The other press fellows and I will learn about everything about vaccine-preventable diseases to hearing hear vaccine stories on the ground from developing countries.

Slated on the agenda are leading experts and executives from WHO, UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, the UN Foundation, the CDC and IVAC. We will also attend the official launch of Shot at Life at the Georgia Aquarium on Thursday.

Please be sure to follow this blog all week as I will be sharing an extensive amount of information about global vaccines. You can also hear more on @socialgoodmoms and facebook.com/socialgoodmoms.

Ghana Set to Roll Out Two Vaccines Next Week

Starting on April 21 through April 28 the world will celebrate World Immunization Month. It’s a pivotal time for global health to celebrate milestones in the advancement of vaccine awareness and implementation.

On Thursday, April 26 Ghana will roll out two vaccines – pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines –  in order to drastically reduce the number of childhood deaths in their country that can be prevented. With the help of the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and various governments Ghana has trained health workers, built cooling facilities to house the vaccines and created a roll-out schedule and plan to begin immunizing its children again diarrhea and pneumonia.