For many infectious diseases, vaccines are the key tool in the toolbox for prevention and control. Yet, even when there is a safe and effective vaccine available in adequate supply, the practical challenges to delivery can be formidable.
Physicians for Human Rights explored some of these challenges of COVID-19 vaccines through a human rights lens in a two-part series moderated by Nina Schwalbe, MPH, adjunct assistant professor of population and family health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
This first conversation focused on the implications of vaccine hesitancy from a global perspective. The World Health Organization describes this issue as “a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services.” This dangerous global phenomenon challenges public health systems and puts people at risk. How are public health professionals confronting a lack of public trust?
Joined by panelists:
- Robert Kanwagi, MPH, program coordinator for the Ebola Vaccine Deployment Acceptance and Compliance Program
- Heidi Larson, MA, PhD, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she is a professor of anthropology and risk and decision science in the department of infectious disease epidemiology
From managing a finite number of doses and dealing with varying efficacy among these, to cold chain requirements, to side effects, there are a plethora of challenges to getting vaccines to the populations that need them most. Following an overview of the COVID-19 vaccine pipeline, panelists in our second conversation shared their views on overall challenges to vaccines roll-out, in particular when it comes to reaching the most marginalized.
Joined by Panelists:
- Bruce Gellin, MD, MPH, president for global immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, who chairs the WHO’s Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines Advisory Group
- Robin Nandy, MBBS, MPH, principal advisor and chief of immunization at UNICEF