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Lions Club, Congress both support vaccination programs [Letter]

Thank you for your Dec. 4 coverage of the Laurel Lions Club's 59th annual Christmas tree sale. Our community is blessed by their partnering with Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services to assist Laurel families who need eye exams and eye glasses.

Until your article inspired me to search for more information, I hadn't known that Lions Clubs internationally provide programs that are estimated to have saved the sight of nearly 3 million children, and that they've vaccinated 41 million children in Africa against measles — a leading cause of childhood blindness and even death.

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The vaccine program is of particular interest to me because I volunteer with the anti-poverty organization RESULTS, which is asking our members of Congress to support a substantial 4-year pledge to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, at the Jan. 27, 2015, meeting in Berlin, Germany. The hope is that pledges by governments, corporations, foundations and civic organizations like Lions Clubs will total $7.5 billion over four years. That will enable Gavi to immunize 300 million children, thereby saving an estimated 5-6 million lives. Lions Clubs have committed to raising $30 million for Gavi by 2017, their 100th anniversary.

This past Thursday, the Senate resolution in support of Gavi, led by Senators Menendez (Democrat) and Rubio (Republican) and signed by Maryland's Ben Cardin, passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The companion House resolution, led by 18 primary cosponsors — 9 Republicans and 9 Democrats, is still open for signatures. Rep. John Delaney and Rep. Chris Van Hollen have signed on.

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How appropriate to focus on children during this Christmas season!

Pat Behenna

Laurel

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