Moms in the spotlight are often criticized for everything, from the names they choose for their children to how they dress them, the type of rules they set, or even the length of their maternity leave.
Being a mom is hard work, and it comes with many tough decisions — but choosing whether or not to vaccinate your child shouldn’t be one of them.
This Mother’s Day, Global Citizen is honoring famous moms who know best when it comes to the importance of immunization around the world, and are using their platforms to spread the word.
1. Salma Hayek Pinault
Global Citizen champion Salma Hayek Pinault advocates for global immunizations as a UNICEF ambassador. She received UNICEF’s Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award in 2018 for leading on UNICEF’s campaign to end maternal and neonatal tetanus.
“The thought of losing a child to a disease which can be easily prevented seems unbearable, especially when it is within our power to prevent it,” Hayek, who was a spokesperson for the Pampers-UNICEF “One Pack = One Vaccine” campaign, said in a statement, “If you knew how to help save a child’s life, what could stop you?”
2. Serena Williams
In September 2011, tennis superstar Serena Williams became an official UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She had worked with UNICEF before, visiting Ghana and joining health workers in delivering vaccines to children there.
She wasn’t a mom yet, but even then Williams said it was humbling to see all the kids arriving for their immunizations.
“I have always dreamed of coming ... into a village like this, and just interacting with everyone,” she told Voice of America in 2009. “I just want to make sure that everyone is educated about these vaccines that are so important, and it is awesome that everyone is here.”
3. Kristen Bell
Actress and momsplainer extraordinaire Kristen Bell contributed a piece to HuffPost in 2015 about vaccines. She admits to initially leaning toward not vaccinating her children — but doing research changed her mind.
“I decided facts were my friends. I couldn't rely on word-of-mouth, friend-of-a-friend information. It was going to require actual research from vetted sources; I wanted the truth,” she wrote. “Before I started my research, I had no idea what smallpox or polio looked like, and I bet you don't either. Most people aren't aware and therefore aren't afraid of diseases they've never seen — or sometimes haven't even heard of. We owe that peace of mind to the scientists who pioneered vaccines.”
4. Jennifer Garner
I think we can all agree that every child deserves a childhood— a time to LEARN📚, PLAY⚽️, and be HEALTHY👩⚕️ and SAFE🤗. @savethechildren just released a study that ranks 175 countries based on how severely childhood is threatened due to factors such as poverty, conflict, and discrimination against girls. Guess what— the United States ranks 36th. 36th! This #internationalchildrensday may we please recognize that 1.2 billion children worldwide are at risk of being denied their right to a childhood. Even here in your own backyard. #investinkids #anywhere #endofchildhood
Jennifer Garner, a mother of three, is an ambassador for the American Lung Association’s Face of Influenza campaign, and has been outspoken about the importance of vaccines.
“I want to help make sure that all moms across the country understand that influenza is serious and that vaccination should be a family priority,” Garner said in March 2018.
5. Gal Gadot
Wonder Woman Gal Gadot is also an ambassador for the American Lung Association’s Face of Influenza campaign. She’s a mother of two girls (and was actually pregnant while shooting Justice League). Last November, she joined an Israeli vaccine campaign and posted a photo on Facebook promoting it.
“We’re all posting a photo with our hands on our vaccinated shoulders,” Gadot wrote in Hebrew on her post, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“Because an immunized environment is a protected environment in the eyes of medicine — listen to doctors,” she wrote. “We should only experience health.”
6. Amanda Peet
Amanda Peet uses her platform to champion vaccines and address polio eradication, and had been doing so for years, even before becoming Every Child By Two Ambassador to the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.
“I think I'm just a concerned mom, and now that I have a newborn who's too young to be vaccinated, it really hit home for me. I think we've just kind of lost our sense of neighborliness. Even if it's not your child, your neighbor could have an infant at home or somebody whose immunity is compromised. Shouldn't we all be in this together?" she told US Weekly in 2015, months after giving birth to her son. “It's really scary. What's it going to take before we all get in this together? Are we going to see infant mortality rates? Because that would be infuriating and so tragic.”
7. Julie Bowen
All I want for Mother’s Day from my boys is a heartfelt, handwritten Hallmark card (and no fighting). I had the best time partnering with @Hallmark and @ImprovEvery to go ‘big’ for moms this Mother’s Day. Surprising my own mom and seeing the priceless reactions of others was a powerful reminder of how such a simple act can make a big impact. Video link in my bio. #ad
Modern Family star Julie Bowen looked to doctors for answers when it came time to vaccinate her kids.
“I spoke with my sister, who is an infectious disease doctor — and then also with my own doctor and my pediatrician, who said to me: ‘By not vaccinating your children, you’re putting them at serious risk.’ That was it for me. Once I made that decision, there were a few tears — mostly mine — but now all three boys are on regular vaccination schedules,” she told WebMD.
8. Jennifer Lopez
Spokeswoman for the Sounds of Pertussis campaign, Jennifer Lopez seeks to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines that protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
“When I learned that many babies who get pertussis catch it from their parents, and how easy it is for adults to get vaccinated, I was shocked,” Lopez said in a statement. “New and expectant parents have so many things to worry about. Getting pertussis themselves, or possibly spreading the disease to their own children, shouldn’t be one of them. I felt it was urgent to let parents know how important it is that they get vaccinated against pertussis to protect themselves and to help keep their babies safe from this dangerous disease.”
9. Keri Russell
After becoming a mom, Keri Russell also became a spokeswoman for Sounds of Pertussis. Just like Lopez, she learned that often parents are the ones who spread pertussis to their infants.
“Like any parent, I would do anything to protect my baby, and that is why I followed my pediatrician’s recommendation to get the pertussis vaccine myself,” she said in a statement.
10. Marissa Jaret Winokur
When Hairspray star Marissa Jaret Winokur found out about the connection between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, she was immediately on board with the vaccine — having survived cervical cancer herself.
“I learned about a year ago that HPV, a common virus, causes cervical cancer. Now there is an HPV test that might have caught my precancerous cells earlier. There’s a vaccine, which can be given to women before they’re sexually active. It makes sense to take these precautions. I’ll encourage my friends’ teenage daughters to get vaccinated,” she told People in 2007.
Routine vaccination has led to a decrease in childhood mortality rates globally as more children become protected against diseases like measles, pneumonia, cholera, and diphtheria.
Vaccines save 2 to 3 million lives every single year, and another 1.5 million lives could be saved if coverage increased, according to the World Health Organization.
Dispelling misinformation and reaffirming the importance, efficiency, and safety of vaccines is vital in the fight towards Global Goal 3 on good health and well-being for all.