Shot@Life is determined to help children around the world celebrate more birthdays by giving them access to life-saving vaccines. During their first year, Shot@Life has helped thousands of children and as they celebrate their own first birthday, they look forward to helping thousands more in the year ahead. I am proud to be a Shot@Life ambassador and look forward to sharing their amazing initiatives.
Lisa Lightner is also an ambassador with Shot@Life. She is a mom to two who lives in Chester County, PA. When not championing for Global Health and Global Vaccines, she can be found blogging at A Day in Our Shoes and working as a special education advocate. Here is Lisa’s experience with Shot@Life:
How did you first hear about Shot@Life?
I first met Shot@Life at BlogHer in NYC last year. I was instantly intrigued by their mission. I joined their email list at BlogHer, so when we got the application for Champion, I filled mine out that day! I was already a member of Global Team of 200 (a group of bloggers for social good) so this was a good fit. I also love the UN Foundation and have supported many of their other efforts such as the UN Disability Rights Treaty. Every day when I wake up, I tell myself “Make the world a better place for your kids” and that’s what I set out to do. My kids include my own sons, my clients, and all kids really, but especially those with disabilities. I believe when we raise the bar for one child or one mom, we raise the bar for all children and moms.
What about Shot@Life resonated with you? Why did you get involved?
Whew. Ok. This is a totally loaded question and I’ll try to be as brief as possible. Two incidents in our family happened at about the same time. One is that my son was diagnosed with a condition called Dup15Q. When we first received his diagnosis, it was overwhelming and you’re extremely vulnerable as a parent. EXTREMELY vulnerable–it’s a mourning process as you have to mourn the loss of your normal child and prepare for life with one with special needs. We don’t know much about Dup15Q, but we did know that there was a huge chance he would develop autism. Since I was so vulnerable, I believed all that crap about vaccines and autism, and I actually stopped vaccinating my son for about 6-12 months. I love my pediatrician and love that she was so patient with me, even when some of our office visits included lots of yelling! But it came full circle. We got our feet back under us and I got my wits about me, and I was angry. I was angry that all that untrue, lies, false information is out there, to the most vulnerable of populations. I put my own child, my own child with special needs, at risk. Kids with special needs are one of the highest risk populations, one of the groups that most needs vaccines. The non-verbal kids with autism cannot tell us when they hurt, when they feel sick–and shame on those individuals for spreading false information AND profiting from it. Read the fine print–most of the anti-vax autism community also has an “alternative”product to sell. That’s very telling. If nothing else, I beg parents of kids with autism to please read “Autism’s False Prophets.” It was absolutely life changing for me and I even wrote to Dr. Offit to thank him.
And that’s just part one! Part two involves my niece. My brother and sister-in-law had twins in the spring of 2008. In fall of 2008, one of them died from a rare form of meningitis. She was vaccinated, but this strain of meningitis is not included in the Prevnar vaccine, not even in the new one. Funny thing is, a vaccine for her strain exists, but it’s only given to high-risk kids, like sickle cell. Regular kids don’t get it, so she wasn’t protected, and died at seven months of age. My SIL is also a Shot@Life Champion and it was wonderful to be in DC with her for Shot@Life. But it still hurts my heart to see her and my brother in such pain. It’s our mission to protect other moms from the absolute pain, anguish and despair that my family lives with daily. Fun fact: My brother married my husband’s sister. (Now I wait 2 minutes for you to process.) The four of us are extremely close. The goods are twice as good, but the bads are twice as bad. This has hit our family hard, so we’re all pretty hardcore when it comes to vaccines! Trust me, I love reading, I love science, I love knowledge…. you don’t want to enter a vaccine debate with me or my family!
What have you done to help spread the word about Shot@Life and the importance of expanding access to global vaccines? How has it been received?
I’ve been doing much speaking about Shot@Life to some local groups of their partners, such as Lions, Rotary and GFWC. It’s been pretty well received. While many older and conservative folks (the groups I often speak to) are not in favor of global aid, most know someone who lived or died from from Polio, so it resonates with them.
What are your plans for being active with Shot@Life moving forward?
I love doing teaching and public speaking. I have some really big speaking gigs for Shot@Life coming up in May, including the NJ state conference for GFWC in Atlantic City. I will be speaking to over 400 women there! But I think this is my niche and I love doing it.
Happy birthday, Shot@Life! Wishing you much continued success in the years ahead!
If you would like to get involved with Shot@Life, go to: http://shotatlife.org/tools/.