When isolated from her family, Francisca Ohaco Magallanes, a great-great-grandmother, feels strange. But after she and her children received doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the 92-year-old, who lives in Villa Soriano, Uruguay, can again spend time with her family.
“I’m relieved that all my children are vaccinated,” Magallanes told UNICEF in August. “For me, it’s like reinforcement, another life I’ve been given.”
Artemio Baldocedo, 83, of Lima, Peru, said getting a shot of COVID-19 vaccine felt like being given a little more life, time he intends to spend with family. “You miss the grandchildren, especially,” he said. “One waits for that moment to come when you can bear hug them.”
Magallanes and Baldocedo are among the many people worldwide resuming normal life after receiving doses of COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX, the international partnership dedicated to equitably distributing COVID-19 vaccines. The United States is the largest single country donor to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in support of COVAX, and has pledged to donate more than 1.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to other countries through COVAX, with no political strings attached.
COVAX vaccine deliveries span the globe, reaching distant communities and at-risk populations, including the elderly. The United States and international partners provided and supported the delivery of 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Uruguay and 2 million doses to Peru, as of August.
As of October 11, the U.S. government had provided more than 186 million doses to over 100 countries and has donated more vaccines than all other countries combined.
These donations are bringing people back what they loved before COVID-19, from hugging relatives to teaching school and even going to concerts. Uganda is planning to reopen schools after 18 months of disruptions and closures.
Vaccines are “critical for schools to reopen safely,” Dr. Alfred Driwale, of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation, told Gavi, a co-leader of COVAX. Uganda prioritized vaccinating teachers, as well as health and security workers and at-risk populations.
For Josephine Nakaayi, a private school teacher in Kampala, school closures meant going without pay. “I want to get back into the classroom as soon as possible,” she said after receiving a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. “It has been tough for teachers.”
The United States provided more than 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Uganda in September, part of more than 2 million U.S.-donated doses provided to the country in partnership with Gavi, COVAX and the African Union.
Members of the South Korean band BTS credited COVID-19 vaccines for allowing them to again perform live for their fans. “All seven of us, of course, we received vaccinations,” a BTS member told the U.N. General Assembly in September. “The vaccine was a sort of ticket to meeting our fans waiting for us.”