JRS Supports Vaccine Equity
“The COVID-19 vaccine brings hope to end the pandemic’s suffering, and JRS affirms that everyone is entitled to share in that hope.” – Fr. Tom Smolich, SJ, JRS International Director
The Jesuit Refugee Service expresses our support for vaccine equity and calls on global leaders to ensure that COVID vaccine efforts prioritize all countries equally and include refugees and other forcibly displaced people in each country’s vaccine distribution plans.
In response to countries excluding non-citizens, JRS has worked to change policies to ensure that all residents can access vaccines and provide mutual protection throughout their communities.
JRS has also been on the frontlines, helping refugees to respond to the pandemic and know that accepting vaccines is a critical component to response and recovery. We helped with vaccine distribution for refugees at the Vatican. Through our home visitor teams and other educational initiatives, as vaccines become available we are informing and supporting refugees who may be concerned about coming forward given their legal situations.
We also continue to distribute food, emergency supplies, and hygiene kits, much needed in places like Uganda, Iraq, and Venezuela. We have installed hand-washing stations in camps with limited sanitation, and raised awareness around COVID-19 prevention and social distancing within the displaced communities.
In doing this work, we know how much the vaccine has brought hope, security, and welcome to those lucky enough to receive it already. Dany, an Iraqi asylum seeker living in Jordan told us about receiving the vaccine for him and his family that “even though we are Iraqis, with this initiative from the government we felt like we are citizens.”