Every 39 seconds, a child dies from a largely preventable, respiratory disease, leading to over 800,000 deaths each year. It may not be the first thought that comes to mind. This dangerous disease is pneumonia. While COVID-19 has (rightfully) taken up much of our attention for the past year and a half, other vaccine-preventable diseases—like pneumonia, rotavirus, polio, and measles—still lead to 1.5 million childhood deaths each year.

In 2020, the pandemic forced the suspension of vaccination campaigns in 45 vulnerable countries. Evidence shows how important these programs are in saving children’s lives (as an example, the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and its partners has led to a 99.9% drop in polio cases over the past 30 years, and now wild poliovirus is found in only in two countries). This is why we must put pressure on our elected officials to continue to fund organizations and partners that support these goals, including WHO, UNICEF, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Of note, the money invested in global vaccination makes up only a fraction of a fraction of our large federal budget.

World Pneumonia Day on Nov. 12 is a timely reminder of all the progress that we could lose if we don’t invest in these programs. Please reach out to Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith, and Rep. Hagedorn to show your support for combatting pneumonia and other vaccine-preventable illnesses on a global scale.

Lindsay Cobb, Oronoco

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