Editor: I am so excited to be vaccinated, and for enough people to be vaccinated in Loudoun to reach herd immunity. I sometimes daydream about catching up with a friend indoors, maybe at a coffee shop or restaurant, or even going out to a crowded bar—not a scene I thought I would ever miss.
I know we are all so tired of this pandemic, of keeping our distance from loved ones, of smelling our own breath underneath our masks and fogging up our glasses, of so many hardships both unbearably big and irritatingly small. Every time I read about increased vaccine authorizations or the amazing volunteer force involved in executing the complicated logistics surrounding vaccine distribution, it fills me with hope and excitement for a future that is just out of reach—the heroic feat of developing a vaccine in record-breaking time accomplished, only a matter of logistics—manufacturing, distribution, etc.—stands between us and a post-pandemic world.
It is precisely because I want this pandemic to end—here, everywhere, permanently—that I do not want to be vaccinated until frontline healthcare and essential workers in every country have been vaccinated. The United States has reserved vaccines for almost 200% of its population, with the option to purchase vaccines for more than 400% of its population. Hoarding vaccines won’t end the pandemic sooner, and supporting COVAX, a global initiative to ensure access to vaccines for low-income countries, isn’t charity. It’s a practical way to keep COVID-19 at bay in the long run, to slow the spread of this deadly virus and give it fewer chances to mutate. Vaccine nationalism—clearing the shelves of the COVID vaccine before low-income countries have a chance to access any shots at all—will prolong the pandemic for the entire world, including the United States, not just for those countries with less access to COVID-19 vaccines. It is imperative that the United States work to scale up global vaccine manufacturing capacity during this pandemic, so that the world can end this pandemic quickly and be better prepared to swiftly tackle the next one.
I have been making regular donations to the organizations coordinating COVAX and have written to my representatives to ask what they are doing to ensure an equitable global distribution of vaccines. I hope fellow readers will join me.
Kara Newman, Lovettsville