It’s probably a cliché to say, “I can’t believe that was only a year ago,” but in all seriousness, when I reflect on 2021, I feel distant from how my life was at the beginning of the year. In some ways, the day-to-day looks the same. I still work remotely, wear a mask in public places and continue to wash my hands every chance I get. However, since I became fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in May of this year, I feel comfortable attending events and gathering with loved ones again. Activities that sounded far-fetched to me in 2020 were made possible by the availability of the COVID-19 vaccination in my community.
People in other countries haven’t been afforded the same luxury – although it’s really a basic need that everyone deserves to access. Earlier this year, we shared an update about the global vaccine rollout status including information about how our Charity Alliance members were working to ensure distribution was equitable. At the time, most U.S. residents were waiting for their first appointment. Since then, vaccines have been made conveniently available for free to those in the United States that want one. Now even children 5 and up are eligible, and many adults are receiving their boosters.
While people in the world’s richest countries are getting a third dose, people in low-income countries are still waiting for their first. Estimates predicted that 90% of people in those countries wouldn’t have access by the end of 2021. Those predictions have proven true, and until everyone is protected against COVID-19, the pandemic will continue. Mutations will result in new variants, economic development will slow or regress, and more lives will be lost.
Out of all the doses administered around the world so far, only 0.6% were in low-income countries. In Africa, the region most left behind in vaccination rates, less than 10% of people have received at least one dose. In anticipation of this challenge, a global initiative called COVAX was established to provide equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world. Unfortunately, the rollout has gone slower than expected, with projections reduced from the original expectation for 2 billion doses distributed this year to 1.4 billion.
Despite the slow rollout, COVAX has distributed about half a billion doses around the world so far. More than 52% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Even though it hasn’t been spread evenly, that is still a huge improvement from where we were a year ago. Organizations and governments are working to continue momentum in lesser reached parts of the world. Global Impact Charity Alliance members are involved, doing everything they can to put more vaccines in the arms of people they serve all around the world. Read on to learn about some of the good work that is happening thanks to our leading international charity partners.
UNICEF is the key delivery partner in the COVAX initiative. Thanks to the charity’s experience distributing other vaccines to the world’s children, UNICEF has been able to update and utilize their infrastructure to distribute the vaccine doses as quickly as possible once they are received.
Currently, the number of projected available doses for this year is 1.4 billion. Additional doses are promised for 2022, including the 500 million pledged from the United States in September. Even with those numbers, it is still imbalanced and vaccine equity needs to be prioritized.
- In India, the Americares team coordinated a vaccine drive with door-to-door registrations, removing obstacles of the online registration website. Those that registered were then able to receive their shots at a nearby school. Thanks to the charity’s efforts, 1,000 people in Mumbai were able to get a first or second dose.
- In the Philippines, an Americares team of only five has been able to help vaccinate over 16,000 people in the vaccination centers of Quezon City. In the same centers, the Americares team is helping provide supplies and public health education.
- Hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and flu shots were administered by Americares to Native American residents in Oklahoma, supporting the Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) Health Services response.
The People’s Vaccine is described by Oxfam America as “a vaccine that is mass-produced, fairly distributed and made available to every individual.”
As part of their support for a People’s Vaccine, Oxfam America highlighted three reasons we need one:
- Everyone deserves a shot at a healthy life.
COVID-19 already disproportionately affects essential workers, women, and communities of color. We all must be willing to work together and prioritize saving lives over making big profits.
- We paid for the COVID-19 vaccine already.
Big Pharma got more than $10 billion in taxpayer dollars to develop and produce our vaccines. All vaccines should be a global public good.
- We can’t move on without it.
A People’s Vaccine is the fastest way to a healthy, prosperous world. Granting corporations monopoly control over life-saving vaccines is wrong: It will put more people in danger and delay the reopening of our economy.
Oxfam America is not alone. The People’s Alliance is a coalition of organizations, including the additional Global Impact Charity Alliance members listed below, dedicated to making the vaccine available to everyone:
Where does that leave us?
Compared to earlier this year: More people are vaccinated, more vaccines are approved for use and distribution is spreading. However, there’s still a ways to go. The good news is many organizations are focused on easing vaccine hesitancy, increasing equitable vaccine distribution and making herd immunity possible so that we can put an end to this pandemic once and for all.
Here are some ideas for how you can get involved:
- Give to the COVID-19 Relief Fund to easily support multiple charities that are responding with one gift or a recurring donation.
- Pledge to one of the many charities involved in this effort when you give through your workplace this year.
- Listen to the Vax Up Podcast to learn more about using the power of social media to strengthen vaccine confidence and shape health behaviors.
- Visit the People’s Vaccine website for other ways that you can take action. Something as simple as a tweet can make a difference
- Sign Oxfam America’s petition for a People’s Vaccine to prioritize protection of those who need it most, prevent monopoly control of production and encourage collaboration of world leaders.