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VACCINE: A call for access

| April 24, 2020 1:00 AM

Dear Coeur d’Alene Press readers:

If a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the next 18 months, are you willing to get it? A vaccine will provide the best line of defense against the novel coronavirus. As we have seen during this pandemic, we need to be prepared for the emergence of novel viruses, because an outbreak anywhere can easily become a threat to all nations.

Currently 1.5 million children die annually of vaccine-preventable diseases. When I lead medical missions to low-income countries, I am amazed at the number of individuals who walk for miles to access health care and vaccines for their children.

At the age of 8, I developed polio and was able to recover. At that time, the vaccines against polio were not available. Now polio vaccines have almost eradicated the disease globally. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries that currently have cases. As a nurse practitioner, I have advocated for vaccinations for more than 40 years, not just in the U.S. but also globally.

I encourage Idaho’s members of Congress — Senator Risch, Senator Crapo, and Representatives Fulcher and Simpson — to support access to vaccines for all children by funding global childhood immunization programs in the federal budget. Our national security and economy have been threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we need to invest in immunization to build resilient health systems around the world.

LORNA SCHUMANN

Post Falls