A couple of weeks ago, I had been considering whether I should get this year’s flu shot, when contracting the disease made the question moot. It was a ghastly experience, which led to a painful throat infection. I learned my lesson, and next year I’m getting vaccinated.
Still, I’m one of the lucky ones as I have access to the flu vaccine. I was very ill, with a possibility of developing pneumonia. I’ve had it before. If flu feels bad, pneumonia is beyond awful, a terrible disease and global killer. Last year alone, pneumonia killed more than 3,000 kids every day.
While vaccines exist to prevent pneumonia and other common diseases, the poorest parts of the world don’t have access. GAVI Alliance is the world’s provider of vaccines in poor countries, and is on track to immunize an additional quarter of a billion children by 2015, preventing nearly four million deaths in the process.
Canada has long supported GAVI, which is now running out of funding. It’s crucial that we step up and pay our fair share at replenishment. My recent illness showed me how vulnerable we all are to disease, and how privileged we are in the West with our easy access to vaccines.
Continued funding of GAVI can ensure that those who need vaccines have access to them, and I doubt they will make my choice.