By S. Mitra Kalita

Vaccine apartheid is indeed upon us. 

Consider a March 22 email to Epicenter from a 69-year-old man in Germany who was ready to fly to New York City: “As you probably know, the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine here in Germany has been incredibly slow and we have not yet received an appointment for our first doses.”

A few weeks later, on April 6, a direct message on Twitter from an immigrant wanting a vaccine for her mother back in Jamaica. No vaccines there either. What to do? 

And just this past weekend, came a plea from the U.S.-based daughter of a Toronto retiree. The mother’s second dose of Moderna isn’t until July and she wants to cross the border to get it earlier. 

Epicenter-NYC, a Queens-based community journalism initiative to help New Yorkers get through the pandemic, has increasingly been hearing from people all over the world in search of a Covid vaccine. The requests come as scary new variants of the virus surge in India, Brazil and other countries. India saw a record 350,000 new cases Sunday (with questions over the accuracy of that count) and Brazil has the second highest-global death toll at 380,000 (second only to the U.S.). Meanwhile, some countries, such as Haiti and Cuba, have no vaccines, and the U.S. has millions of doses it’s not using.  

To serve and cover Queens is to serve and cover the world. That feels especially true now so I sought answers to two basic questions: How did this happen? And what can we do to achieve greater vaccine equity and ubiquity? Yo source

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