HOW SOON IS NOW?
When I was running recently, the lyrics to one of the songs on my Playlist were “How Soon is Now?”
Since I became a Shot at Life Champion in 2013, and a Champion Leader in late 2014, I have learned a lot about vaccine-preventable diseases and the potentially fatal barriers children face in many countries. I have met incredible people, and seen I have seen government “at work.”
If it were up to me, I would take a plane across the world and personally administer a child in Nigeria, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, the three countries where polio still exists, a life-saving vaccine. I would put together the $20 worth of vaccines that will give lifetime immunity from measles, polio, pneumonia, and diarrhea to the children who are currently dying every 20 seconds from those diseases and just do it.
The problem: simply vaccinating children is not simple.
Simply vaccinating children takes the intricately coordinated efforts of people in the affected countries, manufacturers who make the vaccines, vehicles who transport the vaccines, copious amounts of funding, and an alphabet soup of accounts and programs including UNICEF, GAVI, CDC, and USAID. “Simply” vaccinating children a world away takes the involvement of us here in the United States. Although there are many reasons, three of the main ones are:
- the existence of these diseases anywhere is a threat to children everywhere (as we have seen with recent US-based measles outbreaks)
- prevention is infinitely more cost effective than treatment
- it is the right thing to do.
As a Champion and Champion Leader, I have had many great experiences in two short years:
Two Shot at Life Summits in Washington DC
Meetings in the Washington, DC, offices of my Senators and Representatives
Meetings in the Tallahasssee, FL offices of my Senators and Representatives
In-Depth training on vaccine-preventable diseases, advocacy methods, and communication strategy
Meeting Jo Frost of Supernanny fame
Meeting other Shot at Life Champions who are hands down among the most committed, intelligent, creative, funny people on the planet
An appearance on WTXL to discuss World Immunization Week 2014 (tune in again on Monday, April 27, between 6 am and 7 am for this year’s appearance!)
In the midst of all these opportunities, I can grow frustrated though. It is easy for doubt to seep in:
- How will this lovely hotel luncheon/fancy hors d’ouerves event/[insert very first-world goodie or experience here] make a difference?
- How will that e-mail, letter, phone call, or tweet I sent to my legislator matter?
- How can I, “just a mom,” do anything for that child in Pakistan?
I recently read A Simple Idea With Huge Potential by Mark Miller, and his post helped me channel those worries in a different, more productive way. Mark described a plan to accelerate his team’s performance by “assigning a champion to each large body of work.” Among the attributes expected of his “champions” was this:
Ensure the work gets done.
I may not be able to travel to Pakistan to vaccinate a child personally, but I can develop the expertise to make sure our government supports the President’s budget fully so that funding and support for critical global health and global vaccine programs is sustained.
I can inform, advocate, and fundraise for the cause of global vaccination.
I can recruit fellow committed, intelligent, creative, funny people to join me. Heck, you don’t even have to be funny!
We are holding a Champion Training this Wednesday night, April 29, from 8-9:30 p.m.. Please join us, even if you aren’t sure you want to commit to being a champion. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn more! Click this link to sign up and get on the distribution list for the April 29 call.
I may not be able to completely fix the problem now, but I can commit to being a champion for ensuring the work gets done.
WHO WANTS TO JOIN ME?
I am joining my fellow Shot at Life Champions in Advocate 2 Vaccinate, a coast-to-coast challenge for global vaccination that coincides with World Immunization Week (April 24-30). I am pleased to be joining several of them in a blog relay. Here’s the lineup: