Gift giving can become tiresome. There is the shopping, and the wondering if your online shipment will arrive in time, or worse, actually going to a mall. There is the wrapping, but remember, not before you fly. Then, of course, there is the deflated feeling that it really doesn’t matter. Who needs slippers that find a permanent slot at the bottom of your dusty closet anyway?

Are you looking for an alternative way to make an impact during the holidays? Consider giving a gift that can truly make a difference. I urge you to consider the power of vaccines.

Leading philanthropist, Bill Gates wrote: “[Vaccines] are the most effective and cost-effective health tool ever invented. I like to say vaccines are a miracle. Just a few doses of vaccine can protect a child from debilitating and deadly diseases for a lifetime.”

Following in the footsteps of our namesake, the Sabin Vaccine Institute actively promotes greater use of available vaccines to protect children from preventable diseases. Rubella, pneumococcal disease, typhoid fever are only some of the diseases that often carry death sentences for those infected by them in developing countries, but they can be easily prevented if available vaccines get to the communities that need them most. We are one of the leading organizations working to improve access to available vaccines for these and other diseases.

We also are one of the only charities promoting the development of vaccines and the broader use of existing medicines to treat a group of seven infectious diseases that affect 90% of the world’s poor. Collectively, they are called neglected tropical diseases – or NTDs – and nearly 1 in 6 people globally, including over half a billion children, are infected with these diseases.

NTDs disable and debilitate their victims, keeping children out of school and preventing parents from working. They take away any chance that families have of lifting themselves out of poverty. As a group, NTDs impose a greater health burden than malaria and tuberculosis, and rival that of HIV/AIDS. Schistosomiasis alone causes nearly 300,000 fatalities each year, making it the second leading parasitic killer in the world after malaria.

Through our pioneering non-profit product development partnership (PDP), Sabin collaborates with international institutions to develop new, low-cost vaccines for NTDs in the absence of any real commercial market. We have just begun Phase 1 clinical trials on our hookworm vaccine and expect to begin another trial for schistosomiasis in 2012, but we cannot achieve success without generous support.

We invite you to help us bring lifesaving vaccines to nearly 2 billion people who do not have the means to advocate for their own health care.

We need your help to reach our goal of helping the poorest of the poor. Your gift will help to reduce human suffering from poverty-promoting disease through innovative, non-profit vaccine development and effective advocacy. Please consider a gift of $25 to the Sabin Vaccine Institute in honor of a friend or loved one. Join us as we build momentum towards transformative changes in global health through the magic of vaccines.