Every 20 seconds, a child around the world dies from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine. Annually, that number equals almost half the children entering kindergarten in the United States alone this year.
I stand by my support for the flu vaccine. Reasonable people might disagree -- and when they do, I will listen to them and encourage others to do likewise. Not so those who renounce reason altogether, and in its place offer only vitriol.
Familiarity breeds contempt, or at least complacency, and perhaps the annual return of influenza has induced that response. Perhaps that's why we seem to be dismissive of this germ, and overlook what a serious illness it can be. But that tendency is at our peril.
As world leaders gather this week at the General Assembly in New York, I'm encouraged by the focus on children's health alongside other pressing global issues. These discussions come in the wake of UNICEF's latest report on declines in child mortality around the world.
We have long known that bacteria living on and in our bodies outnumber our cells -- which themselves sum up to a number that exceeds any hope of real understanding -- by 20 to one. We are a rounding error in our own skin.
Today, even though we have this information as well as how they are transmitted, there is still the likelihood of a widespread epidemic occurring if steps are not taken to protect our families and communities. Vaccination is one of these steps and by doing so you just might become a hero yourself.
For the first time in history, these new vaccines are also reaching people in the developing world soon after they're available in wealthier countries, eliminating what used to be a delay of 15 years or more.
Adults will often take their children to get immunized, knowing that vaccines can protect them from debilitating and potentially deadly diseases, but many of those same adults fail to get vaccinated and properly protect themselves.
In the United States, we can practically start planning our kids' birthdays from the day they come home from the hospital; deaths in childhood are quite rare. In Ghana, though, you can't take a child's fifth birthday for granted.
Tirades are, by their very nature, apt to gain a lot of attention and "go viral." They are dramatic. They are extreme, provocative, and full of intrigue. Hype sells. Unfortunately, much of the time -- it is wrong.
Likewise, as one of only three remaining countries in the world with endemic polio transmission, they have recently ramped up efforts to eradicate polio from the country, and thereby, help rid it from the entire world.
Just because legislating immunization coverage works in the United States doesn't mean it will work in Pakistan. The main reason is that the drivers of under-vaccination in Pakistan and the United States are fundamentally different.
The power of vaccines is evident around the world, but nowhere will it be more so than in the over 30 developing countries that will begin -- for the first time -- to immunize their children with new rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines.
With children and adults going back to school in the fall, many schools require immunizations to be up to date in order to enroll. The purpose of Immunization Awareness Month is to promote the benefits of immunization.