Our policymakers need to support global immunization programs

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, its devastating effects on our community, the country, and the world have never been clearer. I spent the early part of the pandemic at home in Alameda. While I loved having the extra time with my family, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened by what I’d been seeing around me — empty streets, schools and businesses closing, and most importantly, families struggling and lives being lost.

To me, this emphasized the importance of vaccination. It’s a critical tool that protects ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities — but not everyone has access to them.

Around the world, COVID-19 vaccination rates vary dramatically, especially in low-income countries. Did you know that only 12.5% of low-income, under-resourced regions are vaccinated against COVID-19? What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge backsliding on other vaccination programs for diseases like polio, measles, HPV, and pneumonia. Twenty-three million children missed out on basic childhood vaccinations during 2020, putting them at risk of contracting and dying from these preventable causes.

Everyone, everywhere, deserves a chance to live a long and healthy life. For that reason, I’m calling on our U.S. Representative Barbara Lee and Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein to fully fund global immunization programs. If you support vaccine equity, you should, too.

— Allison Cho, Georgetown University student and Alameda resident