COLUMN: Vaccination rates show disparities with developing countries


Destiny Blanchard, Columnist

A COVID-19 variant, called the omicron variant, has been discovered in a few countries recently. This variant has been seen in cases in South Africa and surrounding countries, along with a few European countries and Australia. This has led to a U.S. travel ban to and from southern Africa. The discovery of the new variant adds to the general uneasiness about this pandemic. It’s been nearly two years since the U.S. has gone on its initial lockdown, and been a full two years since the first case was discovered in China.

We’re at a point where we’re meant to live regular lives and go through a pandemic at the same time. There have been several points in the past months that we talked about “getting back to normal,” but with the continued discovery of new variants, it may be time to consider that we may never get back to normal.

It was pretty recently that children were approved for the vaccine and a good portion of the U.S. population is still unvaccinated. I think most vaccinated people have some frustrations with those who have yet to be vaccinated, but it’s important to consider the privileges we have at our vaccination rate being what it is now. There are many countries that are unable to distribute vaccinations at the same speed and distribution levels as the United States, resulting in the high likeness in COVID-19 variants to develop there. The disparities between which countries have high vaccination rates and those that do not are clear when you consider economic disparities as well.

As much criticism there is of the United States healthcare system, we have the advantage of having free COVID-19 vaccines available to us across the country. The first cases of the omicron variant were found in South Africa. This is unsurprising when you compare this to the fact that less than 30 percent of the country is vaccinated. Until we see higher vaccination rates globally, it can only be expected that more variants appear, regardless of how much travel is restricted between countries.

Historically, the general health and safety of a population have only been prioritized in the countries with decent economic conditions, western countries, and European countries. The countries whose health safety has been downplayed tend to be those who are developing, especially those with majority black or brown populations. This is seen in countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Kenya who have the lowest vaccination rates relative to the rest of the world. I think that until the global vaccination rates are much higher, we will never get be rid of this pandemic. It may be time for our attention to be redirected toward helping the countries who are unable to get their vaccinations up, rather than continuing to alter the way we live to accommodate the pandemic.

Destiny Blanchard is a senior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].