Today is World Health Day (April 7th) and this year’s theme is highly appropriate. In the midst of a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s theme is “building a fairer, healthier world”. 

The theme reflects the #matchmyjab initiative – supported by the ICGP – a global effort to ensure that the populations of low and middle income countries (LMICs) have equal access to vaccines.

The ICGP is asking its members to encourage their peers and their patients to donate to the COVAX campaign – run by UNICEF, WHO and GAVI (the Global Vaccine Alliance) – once they have been fortunate enough to receive their own vaccines.

Over the coming months here in Ireland, tens of thousands of vaccines will be administered to our population, ensuring a welcome sense of relief as we begin to see the end of the restrictions on our lives caused by this virus.

We know this virus is highly contagious and spreads easily.  No one is safe until everyone is safe. In this pandemic, every person on the planet is at risk of COVID-19. Furthermore, the integrity and protection from our own vaccination programme is threatened by the continued spread of COVID-19 around the world.

As the virus spreads, new variants are emerging and will continue to emerge and unless we take a global approach to vaccination, there is the ongoing risk that new variants will threaten the effectiveness of current and future vaccines.

The #matchmyjab campaign is aimed at protecting both ourselves and those around the world who are even more vulnerable. We are not asking people to forego vaccines in Ireland, but simply to make a small financial contribution to a fund which will make vaccines affordable where currently they are not. This will not affect our vaccine supply or programme, but it will impact positively on others.

We work tirelessly as GPs and healthcare workers to protect our population. Please spare a thought – and a few euro – for those in greater need to help build a fairer, healthier world. 

JOINT AUTHORS: Dr Stephen Brennan is Chair of the ICGP’s Global Health Special Interest Group. Dr John Morris is Clinical Fellow in Global Health with the ICGP.