As a Utah native, I was disheartened to read about how, despite rising measles cases in the United States this year, Utah has seen the third largest decrease in vaccination rates of any state and is tied for the 19th lowest MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination rate.

While parents here might be reluctant to vaccinate their kids even when vaccines are available, 13.5 million children worldwide still lack access to basic immunization services. In fact, just this week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that in 2018 alone nearly 150,000 people died from the measles virus around the world.

This measles mortality report is especially upsetting, because the measles vaccine works, and it has saved over 21 million lives since its introduction.

In the midst of measles outbreaks at home and abroad, I hope our elected officials work harder to make the vaccine accessible to the people who need it most. That is why I am calling on Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ben McAdams to support robust funding for global childhood immunization programs and CDC measles elimination activities in the federal budget. No person — whether in Utah or around the world — should have to suffer from a vaccine-preventable disease.

Lori Harding, South Jordan