On January 26, 2021, the IAMSCU Executive Committee proposed that the association should focus on COVID-19 vaccine equity, encouraging Methodist educational institutions to be a force promoting awareness, education, discussions, and actions on this matter. On February 2, 2021, the IAMSCU Board of Directors met and dedicated a session of its meeting to discuss the following question: How is the COVID-19 vaccination happening in your context and how can Methodist institutions support this process? In answer to this question, representatives from around the world shared about their contexts and proposed the following actions – among others – to be implemented by IAMSCU:
- to celebrate Methodist medical schools, nursing departments, and clinics as well their healthcare professionals as people fulfilling a Christian vocation;
- to develop a theological narrative around vaccination and pandemic in order to encourage our communities to promote abundant life in their daily practices;
- to involve leading voices from our educational institutions, churches, and communities to educate people about vaccination processes;
- to recognize our contextual differences and address the fact that many people do not have access to the vaccines being developed and distributed;
- to leverage the resources of our educational institutions, churches, and communities, so they can be a source of reliable and truthful information about the virus and vaccines.
Based on these considerations, the IAMSCU leadership concluded that never has there been more of a need for Methodist education than now, especially as a source of trust – including in matters related to public health education – and also as a force to promote more information on vaccine accessibility. During the April, IAMSCU wants to address these issues more directly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only about 10 countries have secured and distributed 80% of the existing vaccines. Moreover, even in these countries, many vulnerable communities have not had access to information or vaccination due to race, class, gender, age, and other forms of discrimination. Therefore, IAMSCU has a moral obligation to stress the need for a more equal distribution of the vaccines, not only to address the current challenge of COVID-19, but also to cure diseases such as malaria, HIV, and others that affect millions of people worldwide.