In celebration of World Immunization Week, we asked some of our staff to reflect on their careers and why immunization is a critical tool in public health.
Here’s what inspires them:
What was the moment you realized you wanted to work in the immunization/vaccines field?
“It clicked for me when I was taking care of kids who had Hib meningitis during the late 1980's right after the vaccine was starting to be used in the United States.” – Kate O’Brien, Executive Director
“While serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, I worked with the local Ministry of Health's National Immunization Days for Polio. I spent a week traveling out to remote villages vaccinating children and providing Vitamin A supplements to prevent Polio.” – Matt Coles, Senior Program & Contract Analyst
“After completing my pediatric training I worked in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a pediatrician for two years and saw many children die of vaccine-preventable diseases, most notably measles and meningitis.” – Bill Moss, Deputy Director
What do you find rewarding about working in global health? In immunization/vaccines?
"Knowing how much of an impact vaccines can have on every family. Many families will never know the devastation of these preventable illnesses and knowing I contributed to that, even in a small way is HUGE for me.” – Lois Privor-Dumm, Director of Policy, Advocacy & Communications
“Being a positive part of a global community.” – Diane Coraggio, Research Associate
“Working in global health has allowed me to understand the root causes of poverty and disease that plague the majority of the world, and do so inequitably, and has provided me with the confidence and skills I need to contribute to changing the current situation and addressing those root causes.” – Olivia Cohen, Research Associate
“Immunization programs target healthy people and aim to keep them healthy. What better way contribute to public health?” – Kyla Hayford, Research Associate
What are you most proud of in your work at IVAC or in immunization/vaccines?
“I am always proud when the pediatricians and public health experts we have worked with advocate for change and speak up for needed interventions in effective ways - I love seeing a little bit of training and empowerment turn into something much bigger and better than we would have ever thought of!” – Lois Privor-Dumm, Director of Policy, Advocacy & Communications.
“I'm most proud of the impact our work has----it has tangibly and meaningfully contributed to actually moving the needle on getting vaccines to the people and places where they are most needed.” – Kate O’Brien, Executive Director
“It's especially rewarding when governments and policymakers use our work to make decisions around vaccines. “– Brian Wahl, PhD Candidate
What is something about immunization/vaccines that you wish more people knew?
“Vaccines are by far one of the most cost-effective public health solutions!” – Diane Coraggio, Research Associate
“Immunizations are the best buy out there-----there isn't anything that does a better job of preserving health and enhancing life.” – Kate O’Brien, Executive Director
What do you find most challenging about your vaccine/immunization work?
“There is so much to do and so little time! The vaccine world is a complex space and this field needs the best, the brightest, and all of our efforts to make accelerated progress.” – Kate O’Brien, Executive Director
“One of the most challenging things about successful vaccine work is that it can undermine itself. The disease goes away and people no longer understand how important vaccines are and they played in reducing the disease burden.” – Bill Moss, Deputy Director
What do think is the biggest challenge to closing the immunization gap?
“I think the focus needs to be more on the hard to reach with an understanding that where the greatest burden is (often where health systems are weakest) is truly the priority. There have been some examples of successful programs, countries, communities and the global health community need to focus on all aspects of strengthening immunization programs - both on the demand and supply side.” – Lois Privor-Dumm, Director of Policy, Advocacy & Communications.
“Delivery, delivery, delivery and optimizing the ways in which we use the vaccines we have.” – Kate O’Brien, Executive Director
“Reaching populations in areas of continuous conflict zones, refugee camps, and increasingly in areas of recent natural disasters.” – Olivia Cohen, Research Associate
“Improving accountability and governance in many developing countries and integrating immunization with other primary healthcare services will help close the gap.” – Brian Wahl, PhD Candidate