It was working with the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Global AIDS project that made Jackie Kaufman aware of how many children die each year from diseases.
“There are many diseases that we have yet to figure out how to prevent with effective vaccines, but for those that we can prevent, we need to be vigilant that everyone has access to this basic life-saving measure,” Kaufman said.
It was this experience that spurred Kaufman, a nurse practicioner, to co-found Vaccine Ambassadors LLC, a Chapel Hill nonprofit that began in 2012 with the goal of increasing access to vaccines worldwide.
The group partners with local pediatric clinics to raise awareness about the importance of immunizations for everyone.
Families are offered the opportunity to become Vaccine Ambassadors during their visits to participating clinics. Through the program, a donation of at least $2 can be added at the end of a visit to pay for children’s vaccinations in developing countries.
Through a unique partnership with the Pan American Health Organization, each $2 donation can purchase six measles vaccines or four vaccines protecting children against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
Former UNC basketball player Eric Montross helped found the organization and said it has been a privilege to be a part of the effort.
“Vaccine Ambassadors is like a snowball rolling down a hill that is quickly gaining momentum and speed,” Montross said. “It’s such a simple concept and we believe it’s going to make a difference.”
Sandhills Pediatrics clinic in Southern Pines joined the growing number of clinics supporting the global health initiative without leaving the walls of their practice.