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More people need to take the COVID-19 jab
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More people need to take the COVID-19 jab

A 2020 publication from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has found that the willingness to be vaccinated in the United States hovers around 60%. Among the less educated and rural folks, the number is even smaller. Vaccine hesitancy is however not only a reality in the United States but in Commonwealth countries, too. If we are to beat COVID-19 and return to normal we must combat vaccine hesitancy and get vaccines to people at all corners of the earth writes Bismark Akoto, a  Commonwealth Correspondent from Accra, Ghana.

The safety and long-term effects of COVID-19 vaccines have caused legitimate concern globally because of the speed at which they were produced. While such scepticism is welcomed, scientists are reassuring us that previous injection knowledge was applied in the production of the new vaccines. Despite the constant assurances, we cannot ignore the deliberate spread of false information, fear, and conspiracy theories concerning the ongoing vaccination rollout which is affecting people voluntarily taking their jabs.

Currently, more than 80 million people have been vaccinated around the world. Although a significant number of these people experienced expected reactions such as temporal headaches and fever, no associated deaths or extremely adverse effects have been recorded. Since the implementation of Israel’s vaccination programme, the country has reported a 67% decline in the hospitalization of its citizens over 70-year-old. This was revealed in a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC also announced in March 2021 that fully vaccinated Americans could gather indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. Although it’s still early days, such promising developments give us hope of overcoming this pandemic in the not-so-distant future. As health experts have advised, ending this pandemic relies heavily on the majority of people getting vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Yet, as mentioned, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy continues to be a challenge. In order to combat this, the benefits of the vaccines should be compared to the threat of the COVID-19 illness.

Aside from the difficulty in detecting the viral infection at its early stages which leads to multiple infections, we need to be reminded that in addition to the immediate possibility of serious illness or death posed by COVID-19 it also has long-term effects.

In July 2020, Richard Quest, a CNN British journalist, shared his harrowing experience with the virus two months after fully recovering. According to a report by CNN attributed to him, he disclosed “…I am discovering new areas of damage: I have now become incredibly clumsy…At times there’s a sense of mild confusion. The micro delay in a thought, the hesitation with a word.” Away from Richard’s distressing experience, COVID 19 has claimed the lives of over 2.6 million people worldwide, overwhelming hospitals, and is having a knock-on effect globally.

As of March 2021, the BBC has reported that more than 80% of intensive care unit beds are occupied in 25 of Brazil’s 27 States with a significant rise in cases in some Eastern European countries. As shown by research, our best solution to fight the pandemic is the vaccine.

As we keep encouraging our family and friends to get vaccinated, especially those who are hesitant, we shouldn’t forget to share our personal experiences in the process, provide emotional support, and more importantly desist from sharing fake news to fight misinformation. Borrowing from Melissa Fleming’s recent article on how to talk to people who are hesitant to take the vaccine, one of the surest ways to convince them is to be more empathetic in our approach. This will afford us the opportunity to understand their personal desires, needs and fears before addressing their concerns.


As COVID has taught us over the past year, we live in a time where the boundaries between us are overwhelmed by our connections. As such, we need to collectively work together in getting the vaccine to all corners of the earth, paying closer attention to underserved communities. This includes disadvantaged populations like refugees, irregular migrants, the homeless , ethnic minorities, and lower-middle-income countries where less than 4% of the world’s two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. Let’s correct this together, shall we?

Photo credit cottonbro from Pexels

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About me: I recently completed my graduate studies at the University of Ghana’s Centre for Migration Studies. I’m a safe migration advocate, an IBUILD Africa Peace Ambassador, and a proud Commonwealth Correspondent. Additionally, I have internship experience with Ghana Refugee Board, where I served as an Assistant. My research focused on the resilience of irregular migration from Africa to Europe. I am interested in issues related to migration, education and human rights. It is my vision to use my knowledge to help make our world a better place.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles

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