McCoy attends Shot@Life summit


SUMMARY: Senior nursing student Alexandra McCoy was chosen as a Shot@Life Champion allowing her to promote the importance of vaccines at the Shot@Life Champion Summit on Capitol Hill from February 27 to March 1.

By: Lauren Mitchell
Creative Services Student Writer

PHOTO: McCoy in DC

Around the world, a child dies every twenty seconds from a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine. Shot@Life is an organization that works to change this by educating, connecting and empowering individuals to advocate for vaccinations for children in developing countries. They work together with Gavi, a global vaccine alliance, to buy vaccines in bulk thus lowering the price. Gavi then gives the vaccines to UNICEF to distribute; they ensure the maintenance of the “cold chain,” keeping the vaccines at a safe temperature. Senior nursing student Alexandra McCoy was chosen as a Shot@Life Champion allowing her to promote the importance of these vaccines at the Shot@Life Champion Summit on Capitol Hill from February 27 to March 1.

The ever-changing political climate can jeopardize funding for vaccines in underdeveloped countries and as a future nurse, McCoy is determined to work to prevent this. One hundred Champions were selected from about 200 national applicants ranging from nursing students to those with political backgrounds to people interested in the Peace Corps.

Regional groups of Champions were assigned representatives from their area. McCoy and her group worked with Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Virginia Representatives Scott Taylor, Donald McEachin, Gerald Connolly, and West Virginia Representative Alexander Mooney to persuade the representatives to support continued government funding for vaccines. In her nursing training, McCoy learned about disease processes and the importance of vaccines, allowing her to be a knowledgeable advocate. “It is important to realize as a future health care provider that these things affect us. Just because it may not affect us directly, doesn’t mean it won’t affect us in the long run.” McCoy explained.

The summit took place over three days. On the first day, champions learned how to be an effective lobbyist by educating the congressional representatives about Shot@Life. During the second day, “Hill Day”, the advocates put their newly acquired skills into action by meeting with their assigned representatives.  Leadership classes in JMU’s nursing program taught McCoy effective communication skills she used with the legislators.  The third and final day of the summit reinforced this global issue’s importance with lectures from members of the United Nations and Shot@Life staff. “There were people there from all different backgrounds. It was a great opportunity for us to come together and support a cause that we’re all so passionate about,” McCoy said. 

McCoy is also involved in Nursing Students Without Borders (NSWB), an organization that promotes better health access in third-world countries. Her involvement in these organizations has taught her the immense impact that nurses can have. “We have a lot of numbers and with numbers, comes power; and we need to use this to make a difference,” she said.

McCoy’s work with Shot@Life is not finished yet. She will continue working with the organization in April during Advocate2Vaccinate, a month-long challenge to engage members of Congress in discussing global vaccination funding.  McCoy bonded with students from Duke University, George Mason University and Old Dominion University during the Shot@Life Summit, and looks forward to continuing their work through April on this important global health issue.

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017

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