Vaccine inequality — An obstacle to curbing the COVID-19 pandemic
(By Awolola Omolayo, 12/13/21)
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about some innovations, one of which is the COVID-19 vaccines to reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus. This development has however come with some challenges which include hesitancy and inequality, this article will focus on vaccine inequality. Over a 500million vaccines have been distributed, yet the inequity is still apparent putting the low and middle-income countries at the receiving end of this challenge. According to the dashboard from the World Economic outlook, the low and middle-income countries are struggling to vaccinate more than 1% of the population while the high-income countries are far ahead of the vaccination program and are picking up well from the effect of the pandemic.
The introduction of the vaccine to solve the problem of COVID-19 is as important as making it possible for people to access the vaccines.
The inequality nullifies the effect expected from the introduction of the vaccines. The vaccines should not be reserved for the wealthy nations alone but should be made available and easily accessible to low and middle-income countries to avoid the further spread and mutation of this virus which can in the long run lead to severe consequences that can affect the globe. The challenge of vaccine inequality in low and middle-income countries can be attributed to low socio-economic status, poor access to immunization facilities, poor cold chain infrastructure, and low levels of education and for some, geographical terrain.
Vaccine inequality can also be seen at work in gender. In some settings, women are faced with the challenge of getting access to health facilities or vaccination sites. A great percentage of the health workforce are women, about 70% (WHO, 2021), and ironically, they are less represented on the list of those who have been vaccinated. In order to be able to allow the vaccines to have a wider reach, equal gender distribution should also be taken as a priority in every part of the globe!
Reiterating the words of the Director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros, the World’s biggest obstacle in tackling the pandemic is vaccine inequality.
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