Our vaccination policy will require all* of our travellers and tour leaders (excluding Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands) to be fully vaccinated, effective September 1, 2021. We’re taking this step because it’s important to us that we make sure the communities we visit, our leaders and our travellers are safe and that we minimise, as much as possible, anyone’s chances of travelling with and passing on COVID-19.
I know that making anything compulsory may not sit well with some people, but even before we introduced the policy, we were already seeing vaccination rates on our trips of more than 94%. And as a company that takes our responsibility to the communities we visit seriously, we have no choice. We need to keep everyone safe. It’s as simple as that.
Of course, it’s easy to say vaccinations are required, but with the uneven distribution of vaccines around the world, it’s another thing to ensure people can actually access vaccines. Our fundraising and advocacy campaign aims to support just that—fair and equal vaccine access for all.
Intrepid’s philanthropic arm, The Intrepid Foundation, has committed to raise AUD $100,000 to support UNICEF Australia’s campaign via the Give the World a Shot appeal. This includes an upfront donation of AUD $50,000, which will immediately help deliver COVID-19 vaccinations in countries all around the world. UNICEF is the world’s largest distributor of vaccines, and already vaccinates one in every two children on the planet. The organisation’s work will see two billion vaccine doses and one billion syringes delivered in 190 participating countries—including many where Intrepid Travel operates trips and has offices and staff—by the end of 2021.
We’re mobilising our people in those countries, too.
In Peru, Intrepid has been advocating for vaccine equality for remote communities, and offering free transport using our own vehicles to people living in the remote Sacred Valley, to help them access a major vaccination hub in Ollantaytambo. Our team has also worked with local government to advocate for a vaccination hub in Calca, where most of our Inca Trail porters live. At the start of July 2021, none of the porters that Intrepid contracts on treks had been vaccinated. By the end of July, 80% had received at least one dose. And with the memories of our Machu Picchu trip still fresh in my mind, I’m grateful that we’ve been able to assist our people in Peru in some small way in their battle against the virus.
And, in our Colombo office in Sri Lanka, Intrepid hosted a Q&A session with Professor Neelika Malavige, a member of the World Health Organization’s technical advisory committee and part of the executive Committee of the International Society of Infectious Diseases and National Covid Vaccine Committee. Neelika educated staff on vaccines, and the critical role they play in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and spent time answering questions.
We know there is a long way to go until we get through this, but returning to any kind of normal—or better yet, building a new, more compassionate normal—requires access to vaccines for everyone. I am proud to lead an organisation that is supporting that goal. And I hope that you, our Intrepid travellers, will be supportive of our goal of global vaccine equity, because I know you feel the same compassion for our global community as we do.
Give today to ‘Give the World a Shot’ via the Intrepid Foundation.
*Intrepid’s vaccine mandate policy currently excludes Australia, New Zealand and Cook Islands because of their current low-risk COVID-19 environment. It also excludes individuals who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, and who can provide formal medical evidence to confirm.
This article was originally published on IntrepidTravel.com, and has been republished here with permission.