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Famed photographer urges moms to vaccinate kids

By Anne Geddes, Special to CNN
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Fri May 11, 2012
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Anne Geddes: The gift of life
Anne Geddes: The gift of life
Anne Geddes: The gift of life
Anne Geddes: The gift of life
Anne Geddes: The gift of life
Anne Geddes: The gift of life
Anne Geddes: The gift of life
Anne Geddes: The gift of life
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign promotes childhood vaccines
  • 1.5 million children die each year from diseases that are preventable by vaccines
  • Anne Geddes asks mothers to celebrate Mother's Day by donating $20

Editor's note: Anne Geddes is one of the world's most iconic photographers. Her work has been published in 83 countries and her books have sold more than 18 million copies. Her latest project, "My Pregnancy: A Woman's Story," is available on iTunes.

(CNN) -- I have so few images of myself as a baby that 30 years ago, when I first picked up a camera, I never could have imagined that my imagery of other babies would resonate around the world.

Since then, I've been fortunate to photograph thousands of children, and within these images I've always tried to convey the purity, beauty and innocence of the newborn. I truly feel that they represent the very essence of our existence and when they are with me in my studio they always bring joy to my heart.

The vulnerability of the newborn -- without care, nourishment, love and attention they cannot survive -- is a fact of life.

Every mother reading this will remember the moment when she first gazed into the eyes of her baby. Out of that fog which can constitute childbirth, we are not only automatically transported into our new lives as mothers, but that essential nurturing instinct instantly becomes part of us, as we promise ourselves that we will do everything we can to protect the new life we have created.

Vaccines don't have to hurt as much

And after giving birth, we as women become members of the vast sisterhood of mothers -- a universal oneness; a shared experience to which we can all relate.

As the global advocate for the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign, and as a part of my commitment to support the Every Woman Every Child initiative, this Mother's Day I ask all mothers to pause for a moment.

Spare a thought for another mother in the world who feels exactly the same way about her own child as you do about yours, yet is helpless to protect them against common diseases such as measles, pneumonia, diarrhea or polio.

It is very difficult for any parent in a developed country to comprehend that $20 can save the life of a child.
Anne Geddes

Ultimately Shot@Life aims to help save the lives of the 1.5 million children under the age of 5 who die every year from diseases that are entirely preventable by vaccines.

Please don't be overwhelmed by these statistics -- within your heart just imagine one child and one mother.

It is very difficult for any parent in a developed country to comprehend that $20 can save the life of a child. Put yourself in another mother's shoes. If someone were to say to you, "I can save the life of your child for $20," what would your response be?

Shot@Life aims to save the lives of 1,000 children by Mother's Day, and I think we can achieve this goal.

If just 1,000 people gave $20 each in celebration of Mother's Day, we could save the lives of 1,000 children. How hard can it be? A thousand children saved, and the pain of a thousand mothers eased.

Collectively, our babies are a compelling and persuasive symbol of hope and the transforming power of unconditional love. Let's make sure that all of our children live to realize their potential. Together we can all make a difference. To help reach our Mother's Day goal, click here.

Follow Anne Geddes on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Anne Geddes.

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