COVID Vaccine Equity Research Dialogues (CoVEReD)
COVID Vaccine Equity Research Dialogues (CoVEReD)
May 4, 2021
Jennifer Tolbert
Can we overcome vaccine barriers for immigrants in the U.S.—and improve access globally?
In today's edition of our COVID Vaccine Equity Research Dialogues (CoVEReD), Rebecca Weintraub, MD joins hosts Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA and Harald Schmidt, PhD, MA to discuss barriers to vaccination.
Alison Buttenheim, Harald Schmidt
Weintraub is Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and leads Better Evidence and the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery at Ariadne Labs. 
Watch the 14-minute video discussion below, followed by a written episode overview.
CoVEReD Video
Episode Overview
Even as the Biden administration hit 200 million COVID vaccines administered in under 100 days, inequities persist. The CoVEReD team is joined by Rebecca Weintraub of the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University, and they discuss barriers to vaccination for certain marginalized groups who frequently face disproportionate hurdles. Requests for ID have been an unnecessary deterrent, both for undocumented individuals fearful that the information will be used to track immigration status, and for people who are simply afraid it will result in a bill. Even in states that explicitly don't require ID, it is the first question asked at many vaccination sites. Weintraub and Schmidt have called for creating straightforward pathways for people to register for and obtain vaccines without needing to show ID.
Globally, more vulnerable countries also trail far behind wealthier nations, and debate has persisted around equitable allocation of vaccine supply. As Dr. Weintraub notes, the seeds of vaccine nationalism were planted in the early days of the pandemic as individual countries negotiated with pharmaceutical companies for future doses, rather than taking a more collaborative approach. As a result, countries like the U.S. are starting to see supply outpace demand, while hard-hit places like India and Brazil simply do not have the materials needed to boost production. There is still an opportunity to course correct, though. Getting much needed funding to COVAX—a WHO-led collaborative dedicated to getting vaccine supply to 92 low- and middle-income countries—is a start. Beyond this, the U.S. can assume a leadership role as it has in response to past global health crises, recognizing that our moral obligations and our own best interests are intertwined.
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