The Fight to Replenish the GAVI Alliance for Vaccine Fund

Shouldn’t a child be given the same shot of life no matter where he or she is born? I believe that children everywhere deserve the chance to live and reach their full potential. The availability of life-saving vaccines for every child is critical.


For those of you who have followed my blog for years, you know that besides blogging I am also an active advocate and activist for a number of important causes. I advocate for the ONE Campaign to eradicate global poverty, ONE Women and Girls to help elevate the status and well-being of women and girls around the world, RESULTS (another advocacy group that works to advocate with our members of Congress to affect policy on ending poverty) and the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign, a grassroots organization aimed at providing global vaccines to the developing world. All of these causes are truly important to me and I am amazed how much I’ve personally grown by being a part of each organization and using my voice to effect positive change.

As an advocate for global vaccines, I’ve worked hard as a Shot@Life Champion since the campaign launched almost three years ago. Working with Shot@Life has taught me many things about the value of vaccines and the importance of their availability around the world in saving lives. Before I joined Shot@Life, I had no idea that every twenty seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable death. Every twenty seconds!

The tragic statistics combined with the reality that this is a fixable, solvable problem that truly does not cost much, invigorated me to join the cause and fight for funding of global vaccines.

Young girls in Mozambique show off their newly updated vaccination card.  All photos : Shot@Life--UN Foundation, Mozambique, Wednesday, June 1, 2011 (Photo/Stuart Ramson)

Young girls in Mozambique show off their newly updated vaccination card.
Shot@Life–UN Foundation, Mozambique, Wednesday, June 1, 2011 (Photo/Stuart Ramson)

This January, world leaders are meeting to discuss the replenishment of the GAVI global fund for vaccines. This meeting comes at a critical moment in time. A time where we have seen amazing progress in the reduction of under age five deaths thanks to the provision of global vaccines.

At the meeting,  global leaders and private donors will make commitments for the next five-year plan of GAVI’s funding (years 2016-2020). The goal is to achieve 7.5 billion, and the United States, one of the top four funders of the GAVI Alliance, is being asked to commit to 1 billion dollars. It is an ambitious and reasonable goal. (In case you are wondering, the top donor last year was the UK, followed by the Gates Foundation and Norway. The US came in fourth).

We have made significant progress in combatting preventable deaths in children under age 5 by providing access to vaccines.

We have made significant progress in combatting preventable deaths in children under age 5 by providing access to vaccines. Photo credit: Gavi Alliance

Before I dive into GAVI and their great work, I’d like to tell a story. In early September I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Namala Patrick Mkopi, the Secretary General of Tanzania’s Pediatric Association. I met Dr. Mkopi for lunch and he shared firsthand stories about what he has seen as a pediatrician in Africa. The two leading killers of children under age five are diarrhea and pneumonia. Together they kill one in every four children in the world, and both are preventable by vaccines.

Me meeting Dr. Mkopi in Minneapolis.

Me meeting Dr. Mkopi in Minneapolis.

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Mosebo village Ethiopia

Be the Change


I’m honored that my Shot@Life post “Blogust: Reaching Firsts and Making a Difference” is live today on the United Nations Foundation’s website. Blogust is a month-long digital dialogue, bringing more than 25 of the most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life champions (me!) together to help change the world through their words and imagery throughout the month of August. For every comment and/or social media share, Walgreens will donate one life-saving vaccine to a child in need around the world.

Since Blogust began August 1, readers have made over 30,000 comments and social media shares providing over 30,000 vaccines to children around the world who need it most.  I encourage my readers to help out by checking out my post here and either commenting or sharing via social media the post. Please note that you must comment or share the post on the UN Foundation’s website (not my website thirdeyemom) for it to count for providing a vaccine.

I have written extensively about the power of life-saving vaccines to save children’s lives around the world. We know that vaccines are the most cost-effective way to save lives and we can erase some of these awful figures:

One in five children lack access to the life-saving immunizations that keep children healthy. In fact, approximately 1.5 million children in developing countries die each year of a preventable disease like pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio. Put another way, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine.


Here is a snippet of my post today…..

Mosebo village Ethiopia

Me with the children of Mosebo village.

#Blogust: Reaching Firsts and Making a Difference

We all remember the firsts: those monumental moments that shape your life and those around you. The moments that take your breath away. The first word. The first step. The first “I love you”. The first day of school. The first kiss. The first goodbye. Firsts that impact our journeys down the long and sinuous path of life.

For me, the most defining firsts of my life have surprisingly taken place in adulthood. The first time I looked into my soul mate’s eyes. The first time I cradled my brand new son. The first time I climbed a 18,000 foot peak. The first time I boarded a plane for a global volunteer trip alone. However, by far the most powerful first was the first time I realized that I had a voice and could use it.

I was half way around the world, hiking the Annapurna Trek in Nepal with my dad. It was the culmination of years of traveling, hiking and following my wanderlust. As I arrived at the first village, there were brilliantly colorful prayer flags swaying in the wind, the smell of burning incense and the distant bells jingling from the mule trains and Buddhist prayer wheels. I saw a woman sitting upon a stoop, shoeless and weathered from years of hard labor in the fields.

She held an old prayer book in her hand and hummed in a language I couldn’t understand. She could not have been much older than me yet our lives were worlds apart. She remained in that spot the entire day, quietly singing, smiling to the passersby and never once opening that book. Her poverty was apparent and like most Nepalese women she most likely never learned to read or write. She and her family lived without electricity, running water, toilets, education, health care or materialistic goods. Yet somehow she survived.

At that moment I wondered about fate and destiny. How could it be that this woman’s life was so incredibly different than my own? That I was there, in a tiny, rural village carrying on my back more than this woman might possibly ever have in her lifetime. I realized my own opportunities and that I had a voice. I could make a difference and even if small, I could help change the world.

I returned home a different person and from that point on, my life has been filled with life-changing firsts. My first blog post. My first international volunteer trip. My first fundraiser to build a school in Nepal. My first meeting on Capitol Hill as an advocate for Shot@Life. My first social good post. My first philanthropic blogging trip to India, and most recently my first trip as a reporting fellow to Ethiopia where I wrote about maternal and newborn health. Each and every new first has somehow worked to create a chain reaction of more firsts that together have lead me down a life changing journey I never dreamed possible. Firsts that take my breath away.

What I’ve realized throughout it all, is how simple it can be to give back and make a difference in the world. With #Blogust, you can too. A comment or a share via social media provides one vaccine to a child who needs it most. You will be part of the change and help a child fulfill their dreams and live to see their own firsts.

 To read more click here.

Remember all comments and/or social media shares must be on the UN Foundation Shot@Life’s website on my original post. These are the comments and shares that will provide a life-saving vaccine thanks to Walgreens.

You can like my post here but please place your comments on the post here.

Thank you all so much for your amazing support! I could not continue to write this blog without such fabulous readers. I truly appreciate it.

Be the change….


Remember to please comment here (not below) to provide a life-saving vaccine to a child in the developing world. Save a life. Be the change. Thank you with all my heart! Nicole



The Battle We’ve Almost Won: Eradicating Polio

Today is World Polio Day where people across the globe come together to advocate on the eradication of polio and speak of the successes we’ve made and plan for the future. We have never been so close to eradicating a disease before and have only eradicating two diseases in the history of mankind. We are at a pivotal moment in time and we are within reach of wiping this terrible, debilitating disease off the face of this planet.

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Per the World Health Organization’s article 10 Facts about Polio Eradication”  here is where we stand today in our fight against polio:

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Walgreens Get a Shot. Give a Shot.

Get a Shot. Give a Shot.

As some of you may know, I’ve been advocating for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign since its launch in 2012. It is a fabulous program that provides immunizations to children in the developing world. Since a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable death, immunizations are the key to saving countless lives around the world. It is a simple, cost-effective way to giving children the shot at life they deserve.

From now until October 14th, Shot@Life is partnering with US pharmacy chain Walgreens to help save children’s lives. For every flu shot or immunization you receive at a Walgreens Pharmacy, Walgreens will immunize one child with a life-saving vaccine through Shot@Life. It is a brilliant campaign and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Walgreens Get a Shot. Give a Shot.

Walgreens Get a Shot. Give a Shot ad.

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Happy First Birthday Shot@Life!

This week is Global Immunization Week a time set aside to celebrate and advocate the importance of providing global vaccines to save lives of children around the world. I have been an active member and advocate for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign for the last year and a half and have been continually inspired by how easy and simple it is to save lives.

Every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable death. Yet we can change this tragic reality. We know that 1 in 5 children in the developing world do not have access to life-saving vaccines. Yet we have the tools and resources to prevent 1.5 million deaths each year – the equivalent to the number of children entering kindergarten in the US each year –  by providing vaccines. For the mere cost of a week’s worth of coffee – $20 – you can give a child a lifetime of immunity from a deadly disease and save a life. It is easy. Simple. And it saves lives.

Your voice, your time and your support can change a child’s life forever. 

SHot@Life Honduras Image 2

Photo credit: Stuart Ramson/UN Foundation

As a Shot@Life Champion I’ve had the opportunity to use my voice by learning all about the importance of global vaccines and sharing this information as an advocate through social media, my blog and directly with my members of Congress. I’ve visited Washington DC three times to learn more about global vaccines and advocacy. I’ve also lobbied with my members of Congress both here in Minnesota as well as on Capital Hill. Finally, I’ve held two local fundraising events at my home in which together with my friends we have raised over $2,800 which has helped vaccinate 140 children for life. It has been a year to remember and I feel proud that I’ve been able to make a difference in the world.

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First Shot@Life party during Global Immunization Week. April 2012.


My children and me wearing our Shot@Life t-shirts during Global Immunization Week.

Some people ask why do I care? Why do I spend so much of my time devoted to other children half way around the world, children I will never meet?

Simple. I am a mother too and I want to help give every mother the same opportunity to having a healthy child and an opportunity to reach those precious milestones in a child’s life that stay forever in your heart.

Like my daughter’s last day at preschool.  

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I want to give every child the Shot@Life they deserve. 

Shot@Life Mozambique Image 2

Women getting her child immunized in Mozambique. Photo credit: Stuart Ramson/UN Foundation.

Please help spread the word about Shot@Life and the importance of global immunizations. Here are some ways you can help out:

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What it means to become a global advocate


All 100+ Shot@Life Champions who left their families behind to travel to our nation’s capital in February to advocate for the millions of parents who don’t have access to life-saving vaccines.

My dear friend Jennifer Burden, mother, wife, advocate and founder of World Mom’s Blog, wrote a beautiful piece today as part of the Shot@Life’s 28 Days of Impact Campaign about her advocacy and recent trip to Uganda as part of Shot@Life delegation.

Please on link below to read her heartfelt post and learn more about the work we are doing for Shot@Life.

Click here to read: Uganda, Shot@Life, Capitol Hill, Champs & Mohammad!


Jen in Uganda.

Jen came into my life over a year ago through my WordPress blog. As a mother of two young girls living in the suburbs of New Jersey, Jen wanted a way to open up others to  global motherhood and our shared experiences. She had searched the net over and over and found tons of blogs on motherhood yet there were no blogs at all on what it is like to be a global mother. For all mothers, no matter where you live in the world, have a special bond. We may have different lives, cultures and parenting techniques, but we are all mothers. Hence came the dream of starting World Moms Blog, a volunteer-lead blog using mothers from around the world to tell their stories and share their voices.


Walk. Run. Bike. for Social Good

As an avid runner, I was thrilled when I first heard of a new app called Charity Miles.  Charity Miles has partnered with a lot of fantastic non-profit organizations and allows you to donate your miles after a run, walk or bike ride to one of their partner charities. All you have to do is download the free app, hit start, and you are on your way to doing good while you work out. Brilliant isn’t it?

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This month, Charity Miles has partnered with the UN Foundation who I am honored to work with as an advocate and volunteer. Together the UN Foundation and Charity Miles is running a #VDay10k Campaign where people can exercise for a good cause using the Charity Miles app. How does it work? Simple.

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Advocating for global health on Capital Hill


2013 Shot@Life Champions after a day of advocating on Capital Hill.

The last four days have been absolutely amazing. I was one of 100 men and women who went to our nation’s capital to learn about and advocate for global vaccines as part of the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign. It was my second time participating in the Shot@Life Summit and was such an honor to represent the people across the United States who believe strongly in the importance of providing global vaccines for children around the world.

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Be the Change

I recently subscribed to the WordPress Daily Prompts to see what kind of inspiration I could find on expanding my writing. I briefly read the prompts but never wrote one until today when I saw one that struck a chord in my heart. I read it and I filled with joy and excitement. I felt like the words were talking exactly to me.

“What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world”. 

I read these words and thought, isn’t this why I am writing my blog in the first place? To use my voice to share my experiences of what I’ve seen in the world, what I’ve learned and most importantly of all, how we can all give back?

I have talked about my voice time and time again in my blog. But today I’d like to share with you what I’m hoping to change in the world with my blog.


World Pneumonia Day 2012

Today is World Pneumonia Day. Did you know that pneumonia is the biggest threat to children worldwide and that we have a vaccine available that can prevent it?

Were you aware that every 20 seconds a child dies from pneumonia, a largely preventable and treatable disease?

Here are some facts on pneumonia and the devastating impact this treatable disease has on child survival. (Source: Action: Global Health Advocacy Partnership):

“Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children under the age of 5, causing nearly 1.3 million child deaths each year.  Developing countries, and particularly the poorest children within them, are the hardest hit, accounting for 99% of childhood deaths due to pneumonia.

We know how to prevent these deaths. In fact, investments in protecting, preventing, and treating children have led to significant gains in reducing under-five deaths. Although pneumonia kills nearly twice as many children each year than both HIV/AIDS and malaria combined, global funding for pneumonia is significantly lower than funding for HIV/AIDS and malaria control. This silent killer is still responsible for one out of every five child deaths, despite having the tools to prevent and treat it.”

Although much progress has been made towards fighting devastating diseases that has improved child mortality rates across the globe, we aren’t finished yet. The fact that a child is dying every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable death such as pneumonia is unexcusable and unacceptable.

We have the technology and the knowledge to save lives.

Now we need to convince the government to follow through on the promises and commitments made to fund and support programs such as GAVI (that provides vaccines to children in the developing world) and to Front Line Health Care Workers, who are often the only medical attention children will receive.

How can I take ACTION?

  • Write a letter to your government.
  • Meet with your member of Congress or Parliament.
  • Raise awareness in your community.
  • Express your opinion in your local newspaper.
  • Produce a video or write a blog (like I am doing here).
  • Participate in community events.
  • Only have a few minutes? Sign a pledge to end preventable child deaths with World Vision, or A Promise Renewed!

Learn more at

My kids and me advocating for Shot@Life last spring.

This post was written on behalf of my advocacy for RESULTS, Shot@Life and ONE. I am meeting with my Congressman next Monday and will be sure to remind him to support funding for Child Survival. With less than 1% of our budget spent on foreign aid, there is a lot to be done. However, I am confident we will make the right decisions and help save lives.  No child shouldn’t be able to celebrate their fifth birthday because they are too poor.


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