Health equity and vulnerability in the access to COVID-19 vaccines

Castro-Nunes e Ribeiro

The present article discusses the importance of equity in health care access with a focus on the acquisition and distribution of vaccines — strategic and essential inputs in the context of COVID-19. It also addresses aspects that increase the risk of transmission, reinfection, and emergence of new variants, such as fake news, pandemic denial, and the anti-vax movement, which perpetuate the epidemic cycle. The importance of planning and designing whole-of-society health policies to manage the pandemic, within a national and global context of joint control is underscored, considering the need to ensure universal and timely access to vaccines and inputs and to the logistics necessary for vaccination. Equity is examined as the global guiding principle in reducing COVID-19 vaccination vulnerability, with an emphasis on the Brazilian setting, where, despite a strong vaccination expertise, a scenario of decreasing investment in science and technology, precarious logistical infrastructure, and corruption endangers access to vaccines. Finally, possible paths that can be explored and transformed into initiatives to be performed by various sectors in society are presented — for example, the prioritization of regions or vulnerable social groups for vaccine distribution — to ensure that equity in health care access in terms of COVID-19 vaccine coverage is achieved.

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Original research