JSI goes to Capitol Hill to educate legislators on the value of immunization

May 1, 2013

Today, JSI joins national and global experts on immunization as well as national and international nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, to express their support for the World Health Organization's World Immunization Week to raise awareness of the importance of vaccines and the role they play in improving health for adults and children worldwide. JSI representatives will be on Capitol Hill today to participate in World Immunization Hill Day in Washington DC.

"Immunization is one of the most – if not the most – cost-effective investment to decrease child deaths,” said Robert Steinglass, JSI Immunization Team Leader. “We must first prevent killer diseases using known tools and strategies that work. Then we can use our remaining health resources to treat what can't be prevented. To help reach that goal, JSI builds capacity to strengthen routine immunization programs in countries throughout the world to sustainably protect children born every day, year after year."

JSI has also endorsed the fact sheet on US Investments in Global Immunization, to be distributed at the Capitol today, which calls for the continued commitment of the United States to global immunization because vaccines are “among the most cost-effective health interventions, with an economic return of 18 to 30 percent.” The fact sheet delineates US efforts through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the United Nations Children's Fund, and the World Health Organization, as well as these government agencies:

• Agency for International Development, through which more than 100 million children receive a set of basic immunizations each year.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose global health work contributed to a 71 percent reduction in measles infection worldwide over the past decade;
• National Institutes of Health, which played a pivotal role in researching vaccines for dengue fever, malaria, and tuberculosis.
• Food and Drug Administration, which helped develop an affordable vaccine against meningitis A.
• Department of Defense, which is a world leader in neglected tropical disease vaccine research and development.

According to the World Health Organization, immunization helps prevent 2 million to 3 million deaths every year, by providing protection from diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella and tetanus. An estimated 22 million infants are not fully immunized with routine vaccines, which is why there is an urgent need to better communicate the health benefits of vaccination and the dangers of not immunizing children. Events during the week will include vaccination campaigns, training workshops, round-table discussions, and public information campaigns.

On Capitol Hill today, JSI staff join advocates from the Red Cross, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and national and international non-profit organizations working to advance health, immunization and reduce poverty. The group will educate congressional staff on how immunization contributes to child and global health, on the benefits of investments in all facets of immunization, from vaccine development to product delivery, and how and where US money is currently spent for immunization. The group will strive to create vaccine champions among legislators. Planned meetings include the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa/Global Health, select committee leaders and existing supporters.