Rachel Dawson

World Immunization Week is happening this week – a reminder of the power of vaccines to save lives. Yet today one in five children misses out on routine immunizations according to the World Health Organization.

The United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign works to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. This work would not be possible without our supporters and partners.

Today, as part of “Supporter Spotlight” blog series, we have the opportunity to hear from Shot@Life Champion Rachel Dawson, who comes from Brazil and considers Texas her home in the United States. Rachel has had Varicella and Mumps and has had family members affected by vaccine-preventable diseases. She considers her work with Shot@Life “a cause that hits close to home.”

Q: What motivates you to work with Shot@Life?

Rachel Dawson: As a pediatrician, I feel vaccines are life savers, and we need to continue to advocate for vaccinations of children around the world and in our own country to avoid unnecessary deaths and disabilities associated with these vaccine-preventable diseases. It is just sad to see children dying of diseases which are completely preventable.

Q: What is your biggest accomplishment with Shot@Life?

RD: I feel that having trained 45 Shot@Life Champions in two days has been one of the biggest accomplishments so far. I’m also very excited to have been a part of meeting with four of my members of Congress while at Capitol Hill this year in March 2015 during the Champion Summit. Now I feel empowered to meet with my members of Congress in my own district and already have two meetings set up. I plan on bringing a few of the newly trained Champions along with me to these meetings!

Q: What have you learned from your involvement with Shot@Life?

RD: I have learned that we do have a voice, and we can make a difference, one person at a time. When we are passionate about a cause, people see that and want to join us in that cause.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

RD: My dad has always been a huge supporter of everything I do. He’s always said I could be whatever I wanted to be and do whatever I want to do by working hard. He was able to bring 10 children to America as exchange students who all now have built a life for themselves here in America and are thriving. This is all because he worked hard to get there and had a goal he didn’t deviate from.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a difference in the world?

RD: Decide what is important to you and act on it. Don’t just sit back and watch, but get up and make a difference. Take one step at a time and each day you’ll make a difference by the little things you do. Rally those around you to join you in that cause.

Q: In one sentence, what kind of world do you want to see in 2030?

RD: I see a world where children and adolescents are healthier because of the efforts being made to improve health care and access to medical care for this population. This will in turn lead to a healthier adult population which will reduce health care costs in the long run.

Editor’s Note: Want to learn more about Shot@Life? Visit shotatlife.org, follow @ShotAtLife on Twitter, or visit Facebook.com/shotatlifecampaign