Vaccines work to help prevent diseases

Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP) failed to reach 19.9 million children worldwide in 2017. This statistic is a strong indicator of how well a nation is disseminating vaccines to children within their borders.

Through the efforts of international organizations such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization working toward the 90 percent national coverage goal of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a record 123 million children were vaccinated in 2017.

However, there are still 71 countries that have failed to reach this goal, leaving millions more children without access to life-saving vaccinations. This affects everyone on an international level as immigration, trade and travel from foreign countries transports these diseases onto United States soil, creating a domino effect of epidemics such as polio, measles and pneumonia.

Advocacy efforts directed to policy- and budget-makers have resulted in prominent strides in increased funding to organizations such as Gavi and UNICEF. However, those efforts need not stop there.

Healthcare professionals have nearly eradicated polio worldwide with a 99.9 percent decrease in polio-related deaths worldwide with only three countries still waging the battle against polio.

This is a bipartisan issue that brings economic affluence through fiscal decisions: an investment of one U.S. dollar results in a return of 44 U.S. dollars saved in healthcare costs, lost wages and productivity due to illness. There is a critical need for more widespread awareness of the benefits of global vaccinations as a disease prevention method.

Leah Crouch

Portsmouth

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