Usually, World Immunisation Week is a chance for those of us who research vaccines to reinforce the message about their importance in saving lives. From whooping cough to polio, measles to meningitis, vaccines have quietly been saving millions of lives, every year, for decades.
Usually, nobody really cares or takes notice. However, 2021 is different. In this last year, we’ve heard a lot about public health science, from how diseases take root and are spread, to how new drug therapies – including vaccines – are developed, trialled and monitored for safety and impact after their rollout. People are aware that COVID-19 vaccines are saving lives – hundreds of thousands globally.
Normally, I’d want to join in celebrating this increased awareness of immunisation – outdoors in a group of six or less, of course. But despite our success developing COVID-19 vaccines, we need to confront a hard truth: globally, there aren’t enough doses in people’s arms. Nor are vaccines being spread widely enough across the world. Over 1 billion doses have been given in a matter of months, but still more than 90% of the world’s population haven’t been protected.
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