It's clear: COVID-19 has devastating direct and indirect impacts alike.
One of the most critical indirect implications of the pandemic has been significant disruptions to routine immunisation services worldwide, putting millions of children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and polio.
While 3 million people have died from COVID-19, the same number die every year from diseases we have long known how to cure.
Those living in poverty, and aged five and under, are the hardest hit.
On April 28, in the middle of World Immunisation Week, passionate Australian Global Citizens united to hear about the importance of equitable vaccine distribution from leading experts across the medical research industry, journalism, the arts and education.
Moderated by health academic and researcher Linda Kristjanson, the event saw infectious disease researcher Professor Brendan Crabb AC, health and science reporter Tegan Taylor and R&B soul artist and activist Mi-kaisha Masella answer questions about vaccine nationalism, pandemics and media transparency.
Infectious disease researcher and @BurnetInstitute CEO @CrabbBrendan speaking at our #WorldImmunisationWeek Virtual Event on the historical power of vaccines.✨ Thank you, Brendan, for all you do to make the world a safer, healthier place. 👏👏#VaxBecausepic.twitter.com/qX3eNMk3AE— Global Citizen Australia (@GlblCtznAU) April 28, 2021
Crabb began the event by telling the audience about the historical power of vaccines.
"Vaccines and their development and availability are incredibly powerful," he said. "Their impact is next to water and good hygiene."
Like Crabb, Taylor spoke about just how far medical research has come but prefaced that without reliable, accurate, easily digestible health reporting, public concern about vaccines can grow.
According to Taylor, breaking down COVID-19 news every day and helping people feel equipped to "navigate this really weird world we're living in" is an ongoing challenge.
"Sometimes things are really scary, and people just want to know, am I going to be safe, are my loved ones going to be safe, how can I protect myself," Taylor said. "If you don't feel reassured and informed, then I haven't done my job well enough."
Masella, a proud Darumbal Murri and Tongan woman, meanwhile told audiences about the role artists can play in making sense of complex health information and relaying that in a way that is accessible to all.
"Music has the ability to reach communities who don't have access to the academic world," she said.
It is vital, Masella said, to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are at the forefront of conveying positive, nuanced health information about immunisations to Indigenous Australians.
"To do this, they must be empowered and equipped with knowledge,” she added.
You can join Global Citizen by taking a stand for vaccine equity here and watch the entire World Immunisation Week event here.
The Australian Global Citizen team is constantly adding new exciting events in cities across the country — so make sure you check our Facebook page for announcements on upcoming events. These events provide an opportunity for people to join the conversation with like-minded Global Citizens, hear from pioneering activists creating incredible change, meet the Australian Global Citizen team and learn how to increase impact within their community and beyond.