Press Releases & Announcements

Nurse Practitioners Lead Effort to Immunize Children in Ecuador and Guatemala

Austin, TX (April 25, 2016) – Dr. Kathy Wheeler, PhD, RN, APRN, NP-C, FNAP, FAANP, a nurse practitioner and member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), recently completed a global mission to vaccinate hundreds of children in Ecuador against life-threatening disease. Her colleague, nurse practitioner and AANP member Dr. Deborah Gray, DNP, ANP-BC, FNP-C, led a delegation of undergraduate and graduate students from Old Dominion University to Guatemala, administering vaccines and delivering healthcare services to hundreds of children in need through ChildFund's community partner, Corazón de los Niños.

In addition to the work of these nurse practitioners, 40 AANP members have committed to advocating for global childhood immunizations through a multi-year partnership with the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign. Shot@Life raises awareness and funding to expand access to lifesaving vaccines for children in developing countries. During World Immunization Week (April 24-30), AANP and Shot@Life are calling upon policymakers, government organizations, healthcare providers, and citizens to support and advocate for funding for global vaccines.

"As a nurse practitioner, I've always known that immunizations are the best way to keep children and families healthy. Working as a nurse practitioner and Shot@Life Champion, means I am doing my part to advocate for healthy children and families," said Dr. Wheeler, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Gray, a lecturer in the ODU Doctor of Nursing Practice Program at the Old Dominion University School of Nursing in Norfolk, Va., said, "Taking my students to Guatemala was an eye-opening experience, for me and them. We left knowing we made a life-changing impact on hundreds of children."

Globally, one in five children lacks access to the vaccines they need to survive. "Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective ways to save and improve the lives of children worldwide," said Devi Thomas, Director, UN Foundation's Shot@Life campaign. "By encouraging people to learn about, advocate for, and donate to vaccine programs, we can decrease the 1.5 million annual vaccine-preventable childhood deaths that occur globally."

Shot@Life Champions, including Wheeler, Gray and 38 other AANP members, support the work of the campaign by leading grassroots education, advocacy and fundraising efforts to strengthen access to childhood vaccines worldwide.

"Nurse practitioners emphasize disease prevention in our work with patients. We recognize the importance of these life-saving vaccines, especially to children," said Cindy Cooke, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, president of AANP. "We are so proud of the important work our Shot@Life Champions are doing, and we will continue to play a leading role in increasing awareness and administering vaccines to promote immunization efforts at home and abroad."

According to Shot@Life, around the world a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine and funding for global vaccine programs is less than one percent of the total U.S. budget, but this funding helps save 2.5 million lives every year. Here in the U.S., the federal initiative Vaccines For Children provides vaccines at no cost to at-risk children and has successfully increased immunization rates since its inception in 1994.


The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of more than 205,000 NPs, including more than 68,000 individual members and 200 organizations, providing a unified networking platform and advocating for their role as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered and personalized health care. The organization provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NP patients and other health care consumers.
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