Covid-19 vaccine equity is world’s best shot at eradicating pandemic

Covid vaccination

Covid-19 vaccination at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi on April 12, 2021. 

Photo credit: Robert Bonet | AFP

The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted sexual and reproductive health, with the country recording a significant rise in teenage pregnancies and early marriages.

Amid the tough economic times, many families can barely afford basic needs and girls are unable to access personal hygiene products like sanitary pads.

The results of this is the “sex for pads” culture where girls are forced to trade sex for sanitary pads and ultimately a rise in teenage pregnancies, school dropout and early marriages.

A significant rise in female genital mutilation has also been fuelled by the pandemic since the girls are at home and exposed to the cut. The curfew has limited travel to remote places for anti-FGM campaigns. While this is necessary for preventing the spread of Covid-19, these social injustices have crippled access to sexual and reproductive health education.

Covid-19 infections

Next year is campaign season and Covid-19 infections are likely to rise.  If we don’t ramp up mass vaccination, the Covid-19 prevention guidelines will not be enough to protect Kenyans from the disease.  Our hopes were raised when the first batch of vaccines arrived to the country

However, the administration of vaccines has stagnated due to acute shortage with only 0.4 percent of the population vaccinated. Globally,  2.7 billion doses have been administered, with Africa getting only 1.5 percent.

A global pandemic will never end when only one country achieves immunity. We must all have equal access to vaccines for the world to recover fully and that is why we strongly advocate for vaccine equity. The government should support the global #VaccinEquity campaign to enable equal access to vaccines.

Ensure fairness

It should also ensure fairness and accountability in procurement and administration of the vaccines.

As young people who are main users and consumers of social and mainstream media, we must desist from sharing wrong information about the vaccine.

Wrong information amidst the pandemic is termed as “infodemic” and has derailed and crippled our strides towards recovery.

We can’t wait to see a recovered planet that is free from the pandemic.

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