On Giving Tuesday, You Can Vaccinate a Child for Just 10 Bucks

Every dollar donated Tuesday to vaccines for kids will be doubled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

(Photo: Courtesy Shot@Life)

Dec 2, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Celeste Hoang is the Film & TV Integration Editor for TakePart.

This past weekend gave you a belly full of turkey, a Black Friday sale to make your wallet happy, and a Cyber Monday sale to make your (online) wallet even happier. Now that it’s Giving Tuesday, you can give back in a meaningful way: Help vaccinate a child in a developing country through the U.N. Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, an initiative to expand access to vaccines for children around the world—and potentially save a life every 20 seconds, according to the foundation.

In honor of Giving Tuesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match all donations up to $200,000 today. A donation of $10 can vaccinate one child against pneumonia, one of the leading killers of children globally.

The death rate among children has fallen by almost half over the past 20 years, thanks in part to more access to vaccines. Still, more than 1.5 million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, polio, and pneumococcal disease, and one in five children lacks access to the vaccines needed, according to Shot@Life. Much of this is just the luck of the draw—70 percent of unvaccinated children live in just 10 countries: Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Uganda, according to the World Health Organization.

But immunization has saved the lives of more children than any other medical intervention in the last 50 years, according to the U.N. Foundation.

“Vaccines give children a shot at making it to their first birthday, to kindergarten, to graduation, and living through adulthood,” said Devi Thomas, campaign director for Shot@Life. “It’s an early intervention that really allows a child to have a shot at a healthy life.”

Nancy Jones has been volunteering for the campaign since 2010 and traveled with Shot@Life to Uganda in 2012 to meet families receiving immunization shots. Mothers and grandmothers often walked two to four miles with their children and babies to line up at a health clinic for the vaccines, she said.

"There was one grandmother I talked to who said she knew she would lose a child to a disease because everyone else she knew had," Jones said. "But now she has all of her grandchildren around her."

Families who came to the clinic were excited to take advantage of the medicine available to them, she said, adding that children who received their shots enjoyed showing off their bandages to friends. "The older kids understood that this was a good thing, and quite a few would show their friends that they got their shot."

Mothers were especially proud to receive the health cards that came with each immunization shot, which officially stated that their child was healthy.

"They take pride in their children and have the same goals we do," Jones said. "With the vaccine, they can expect to see their kids grow into adulthood now."