Shot@Life is always in need of more volunteers, and the organization aims to develop more of a presence in Georgia and surrounding states. Potential volunteers can find more information at shotatlife.org.
FORSYTH COUNTY — A volunteer from Forsyth County is drawing on her own personal experiences to raise awareness of vaccines.
Yenny Yang is a Champion for Shot@Life, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation that aims to increase accessibility to vaccines worldwide.
Yang, who lives in Cumming, grew up in Indonesia, where she dealt with illness as a result of being unvaccinated.
“I myself contracted typhoid and different preventable diseases due to the limitation of availability of those vaccines,” she said. “I know firsthand what it feels like almost losing your own life over something as simple as malaria or typhoid, so I’m really passionate to ensure that other children don’t have to go through it.”
According to the program’s website, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine. Global disparities in access to health care aggravate the issue, with 75 percent of unvaccinated children living in 10 countries.
Yang has been involved with Shot@Life for two years, and visited the Philippines with the organization in February. She said the government there has made vaccinations a priority.
“It was amazing, just looking at basically how hands-on the government is about trying to implement the vaccination programs through what they call the furthest-flung areas — the remote mountainous areas,” she said. “They are deploying young nurses to ensure that mothers get their children the right vaccinations. It’s a very impressive thing that the government is doing there.”
Yang works in the nonprofit field and educates about Shot@Life when she visits areas in need. She said she plans to work with the Tumaini orphanage in Kenya to promote vaccines using online promotional materials.
Her work as a Shot@Life Champion also has given her the opportunity to lobby in Washington, D.C., an experience she described as intimidating at first due to her relative unfamiliarity with American politics.
“This whole thing is new to me. Just the process itself is very new,” Yang said. “I didn’t understand too much about how divided people are over different issues.”
Yang praised the nature of Shot@Life.
“They have collaborated with really worthwhile partners, such as the Walgreens vaccination program,” she said. “Those types of partnerships and with the country of service … they collaborate with local governments when these programs are implemented so people know what Shot@Life is all about. The collaboration is amazing. I think that’s my favorite part.”