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United Nations- High-level Thematic Debate “Galvanising Momentum for Universal Vaccination”

Hanna Tuoriniemi, HAF Volunteer and University of Michigan Student

On February 25th, I attended the United Nation’s High-Level Thematic Debate, entitled “Galvanising Momentum for Universal Vaccination.” The event highlighted the importance of ensuring that everyone has the ability to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as it is essential to transitioning out of the pandemic. The debates and sessions had many themes that were covered, such as collective effort, equality for all, innovation and lessons for future pandemics, and combating challenges of universal vaccination. 

One message that was echoed throughout the entire event was until everyone is safe, nobody is safe. Until everybody is able to get the vaccine, the pandemic will continue to linger. Once vaccination is made available to everyone, however, we will have a better chance of ending this pandemic and preventing the start of new pandemics. 

To achieve universal vaccination, there must be more equality with vaccine distribution. The event highlighted the fact that 83% of Africa has yet to receive one dose of the vaccine. How will universal vaccination be reached when such a large number of people have not been able to receive it? The world must encourage global leaders to recognize the importance of fair distribution of vaccines. 

The event also took the time to appreciate the innovations that have been made with vaccines throughout the years. Experts explained that mRNA vaccines are safe and effective for the entire population. The mRNA vaccines show that the collective effort made over decades of research has allowed for us to reach this level of innovation and possibility to combat the pandemic. 

Another factor that was discussed at the event was the challenges that come with universal vaccination. One of these challenges is the denial of the impact of vaccination. There is an alarming increase in denial of the validity of vaccination. How can the world overcome this pandemic when there is an increasing amount of vaccine denial? There are also many who believe that the pandemic is over, but it is still raging amongst the entire world. There must be an increase in effort to show people that vaccines are safe and that they are essential to mitigating the spread of COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is a testament to what can be achieved through global cooperation and innovation. If the world wants to triumph against not only this pandemic, but future pandemics as well, vaccination must be accessible to everyone.

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