Atlanta activists protest over global vaccine shortage

·4 min read

“When global health is under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back!” protesters chanted at a global vaccine access protest.

“Don’t be greedy, share it with the world.”

This was one of the messages community members chanted during a global vaccine access protest in Atlanta. Activists called on the Biden Administration to take more steps to share vaccines worldwide.

“Share the shot!” dozens chanted on Thursday morning outside the Sam Nunn Federal Center.

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Atlanta residents joined demonstrators in New York City, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale and Washington, DC as part of a nationwide effort, according to organizers. Imara Canady, who serves as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation national director of communications and community engagement, led the charge for Atlanta’s protest.

“This is a call to action to the Biden Administration to say this is an opportunity, yet again, for the administration to really continue the legacy of America of being that global leader and addressing issues such as this pandemic,” Canady told theGrio.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 180,000 coronavirus vaccine doses were wasted as of late March, according to The Independent.

Canady stressed that more action needs to be taken to avoid wasteful results. 

“We know that we are throwing away and wasting thousands upon thousands of vials, vaccinations in this country and it’s a travesty that while brothers and sisters across this globe are dying because they dont have access to the vaccination and literally may not get access to it until as early as 2023,” Canady said.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation joined groups across the country, alongside local members of the religious and civic community, to amplify the message.

“When global health is under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back!” chanted Keyanna Michelle, an activist, organizer and assistant director of Justice for GA, at the Atlanta protest.

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Social Change, a nonprofit that addresses inequity, was one of the community partners involved with the demonstration. Community organizer Kat Maddox, who volunteers with the organization, spoke with theGrio about why leaders need to step up.

“If an airborne respiratory illness ravaging the globe hasn’t taught us that our individual health is totally dependent upon global health, I do not know what will,” Maddox told theGrio.

Maddox agrees with Canady on pharmaceutical companies having a moral responsibility to get behind a broader global vaccination plan.

“In this moment, our elected officials are not exerting their authority over these companies to make a global vaccination plan,” Maddox said. “So 9 people have profited off the pandemic to the point of becoming billionaires, but we have no transparency, and we have no plan for the future. And it is in everyone’s best interest to ask themselves why.”

The nationwide protests came a day after people close to the Biden Administration shared that they will be buying 500 millions doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to donate to countries around the world to help reach more people, per The Washington Post.

Community members say that’s not enough. 

“We applaud the Biden Administration for the work that they’ve already done, especially in the most recent announcement of giving half a billion vaccinations to underserved countries, but public health officials have already said that’s not enough,” Canady said. 

Canady, among others, are demanding that the president do more to support countries who need more assistance. 

“Let’s get two billion [vaccines] to our brothers and sisters in underserved countries in Sub Saharan Africa, [and countries] like India that we know are continuing to die at disproportionate rates because of this pandemic,” Canady said. “All people deserve vaccinations.”

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