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FAANP: Impacting the Health of Children Worldwide — One Shot at a Time

Headshot of AANP Fellow and nurse practitioner Deborah Gray

Hear from Deborah Gray, DNP, FNP-C, ANP-BC, FAANP, a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP), on her experience with Shot@Life, a grassroots advocacy campaign of the United Nations Foundation.

Did you know almost one third of deaths among children under the age of five worldwide can be prevented simply through access to basic vaccines? It's stunning to think that one child dies every 20 seconds from an immunization-preventable disease such as pneumonia, diarrhea and measles. That equates to 1.5 million deaths each year and almost three lives in the time it takes to read this brief article!

AANP has partnered with the United Nations Foundation through Shot@Life, a grassroots initiative designed to help make vaccines available to vulnerable populations around the world that don’t have ready access to them. A grassroots advocacy campaign of the United Nations Foundation, Shot@Life works with partners and volunteers in the United States and globally to ensure that lifesaving vaccines are available in developing countries to prevent measles, polio, pneumonia and diarrheal disease among the hardest-to-reach children. Shot@Life strives through education, fundraising and advocacy to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life, no matter where he or she lives.

Deborah Gray joins a group of NPs and advocates for childhood vaccinations

Shot@Life is a grassroots advocacy campaign of the United Nations Foundation with a mission to champion global childhood immunization. After becoming aware of Shot@Life and its mission through AANP, many members and AANP Fellows have signed up to get involved and become Shot@Life Champions. As Champions, we rally members of the public, members of Congress, businesses and civil society partners to support and invest in the global childhood immunization programs. Champions do some fundraising but primarily act as powerful advocates on the policy front. We know that congressional offices are three times more likely to act if messaged regularly by us, their constituents. This past year, Shot@Life’s network of Champions — passionate people from all walks of life, including many nurse practitioners (NPs) — called, wrote more than 10,000 letters and emails to members of Congress and held more than 300 meetings with congressional offices. Champions, no different than you, are an impactful force that were successful this past year in helping to secure $588 million in U.S. government funding and raising $3.6 million in corporate grants to directly support the global childhood immunization frontline activities of UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), saving approximately 2.5 million children. In addition, Shot@Life secured an additional $4 billion in emergency pandemic response funding for GAVI, which will help ensure the rapid and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.

Deborah Gray and a group of Shot@Life Champions meet with policymakers and their staff around an office table

Recently, in February 2021, the United Nations Foundation held its 10th Shot@Life Summit. Although held virtually this year, like everything else in this time of COVID-19, more than 185 Champions — including 15 Champion AANP members — from diverse backgrounds and a total of 36 U.S. states came together at the Summit to learn from global health experts about the most recent information on global public health and disease eradication initiatives, as well as emerging technologies and innovations in vaccine delivery.

At the Summit not only could Shot@Life Champions listen and learn, but we could truly interact with a stellar array of global health dignitaries and decision-makers, as well as leading industry influencers such as:

  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO.
  • Dr. Rebecca Martin, Director Center for Global Health, CDC.
  • Dr. Folake Olayinka, Global Health Team Leader, U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • Dr. Robin Nandy, Chief of Immunization, UNICEF.
  • Dr. John Nkengasong, Director, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Gargee Ghosh, President of Global Advocacy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Niesha Foster, Vice President of Product Access and Global Health, Pfizer Inc.
  • Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.
  • John E. Lange, Senior Fellow of Global Health and Diplomat, United Nations Foundation.
Deborah Gray and a group of Shot@Life Champions pose in front of the U.S. Capitol Building

At the Shot@Life Summit, Champions also worked on advocacy skills, enhancing our digital and other storytelling media skills through practicing op-eds, letters to the editor and social media campaigns. We then put our advocacy skills into practice by lobbying on Capitol Hill in a one-day total of 180 virtual visits to Congressmen and Senators.

As United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champions, AANP colleagues and I have had wonderful opportunities to learn, empower others and truly impact the lives of children and their families around the world. View more about being involved as a Shot@Life Champion.

If this has piqued your interest, I’d urge you to consider joining this worthwhile initiative in whatever way you can. The Shot@Life folks provide the tools to make it easy and convenient to become an advocate for children around the world. Right now is the best time to get involved. Regardless of whether you can contribute 10 minutes or 10 hours of your time, it all adds up and makes a difference!

This article first appeared in the FAANP Forum, Vol. 12, Issue 2, in March 2021. Thank you to Deborah Gray for her invaluable assistance!