For Some of Us There Will be No ‘Post-Vaccine Return to Society’
There can’t be when you don’t have access to the vaccine in the first place
I rejoiced when news of possible Covid-19 vaccine candidates hit in 2020. I hoped that a strategic roll-out in these ‘unprecedented times’ would mean that vaccine uptake would be high, and that the urgency of the pandemic would lead to knowledge and resources being shared amongst different nations. I am no influencer by any stretch, but I committed my knowledge in immunology — together with my speaking and writing skills — to do as much demystification work around vaccines that I could in my tiny corner of the internet.
Vaccines as a Seed of Hope in Healthcare
Of course, evidence shows us time and again that vaccines save lives. And it is intuitive to want to see a collective healing (both physical and otherwise) amidst the global upheaval and devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, my eagerness to see the vaccination uptake statistics steadily increase was born out of more than just typical goodwill for global health: at the time I truly wasn’t sure if I, like many other precarious migrants in the UK, had legal access to the vaccine. I was embroiled in a court case fighting against deportation from the UK, with no access to the free National Health Service (NHS) typically available to UK residents.
To me vaccines gave reason to believe that this pandemic could eventually be controlled at the very least — hopefully protecting individuals who cannot receive the vaccine whether for health reasons, or immigration and border laws (including asylum seekers, undocumented individuals, refugees, and anyone facing immigration hardship: all whom I refer to in this essay as ‘precarious migrants’).
Yet what would make most sense in my mind, especially in light of eradication efforts, would be for all precarious migrants to have access to Covid-19 vaccines regardless of immigration status; as opposed to any section of society having to rely on herd immunity as a protective measure. Any hope to dampen Covid-19’s effects needs to take a concerted effort with as much vaccine coverage as possible.