It’s World Immunization Week and I recently had the privilege to visit with Shot@Life Champion, Julie Marsh. She is amazing and the work that she is doing along with Shot@Life to help educate, advocate for and donate vaccines to help save the lives of children in developing countries is extraordinary.
Shot@Life 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. By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate to vaccines, Shot@Life aims to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life.
The organization is celebrating their first birthday along with their many accomplishments such as:
- helping ensure that thousands of children around the world reached the milestone of celebrating a first birthday by receiving life-saving vaccines
- sending over 26,000 letters to Congress
- growing the movement to include more than 190,000 supporters
Shot@Life Champion, Julie Marsh is VP of Operations at Cool Mom Picks, a shopping blog for parents, focused on small, independent businesses and fabulous design. A project manager by trade, Julie has three children, lives in Colorado and writes about things that interest her at JulieMarsh.net.
Jenn: Tell me about how you started working with Shot@Life
Julie: I started my work with Shot@Life last year for Blogust – the blog relay for good, in which 31 bloggers posted over the course of August 2012 (one per day) regarding the positive impact of vaccines on our lives. I had previously written about public health, diet and exercise in particular, and relevant policy issues. In my Blogust post, I also discussed my undergraduate studies in health sciences, as well as recent reading about political events in Africa and the resulting health and social issues.
While so many public policy issues seem thoroughly overwhelming, vaccination is a simple, elegant, low-cost means of saving lives. The benefits of such a small action are truly enormous.
Jenn: How did you continue your work with advocating for vaccinations for children?
Julie: After Blogust, I attended the Social Good Summit sponsored by Mashable in September 2012. It was an amazing learning opportunity concerning the use of social media in cause advocacy, with topics ranging from Giving Tuesday to the new Half the Sky Facebook game, and speakers including UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Grammy winning musician Angelique Kidjo, children’s book illustrator and measles eradication advocate Sophie Blackall, and Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist Nicholas Kristof, among many others. While my primary focus there was to learn more about vaccinations as they relate to public health, I was astounded by all of the public health issues that are gaining traction via social media channels.
In October 2012, I was invited to visit Uganda as a guest of the UN Foundation and UNICEF (you can see her day by day documentation beginning here on her blog, JulieMarsh.net.) and in February 2013, I participated in the 28 Days of Impact to help raise funds for Shot@Life. Specifically, I covered the story of Florence, a young mother I met in Uganda who was characterized by a doctor there as a “model mother.” Her determination to do the very best she could for her children, overcoming obstacles that most American mothers can’t fathom, has become another driving factor behind my advocacy for vaccines.
Jenn: Why do you feel it is important to become involved with this issue?
Julie: Effective public health policies (and frankly, personal health strategies) necessitate taking the long view of society and of our own lives. Doing the right thing, both individually and collectively, is not always cheap or easy. In fact, the longer we live without regard for our future, the more difficult and expensive it will become to take care of ourselves — again, both individually and collectively.
Maybe I can’t convince people to adopt a healthier diet or exercise regularly, because the cost and difficulty of these may seem prohibitive in the short term. But vaccines are cheap, easy, and the global public health payoff is immense.
You can learn more about Shot@Life, the work that they do and how you can help online and on Facebook. You can also follow the birthday celebration on twitter at #birthdaybash and learn more about other Shot@Life Champions on Storify.