Nearly 50,000 people, aged 55 years and above, will be inoculated in three days, officials say
Bangladesh has started vaccinating the Rohingya refugees living in camps in Cox's Bazar from Tuesday as part of its nationwide mass vaccination drive.
As many as 6,901 male and female refugees received Covid shots on the first day of the three-day program at 56 centres of 34 camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya.
Some 48,000 Rohingyas, aged 55 and above and registered with the UNHCR, will be vaccinated between Tuesday and Thursday with the help of the UN agencies.
Community health workers distributed special Covid-19 vaccination cards among the eligible refugees, Cox's Bazar Civil Surgeon Dr Mahbubur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.
The three-day campaign is likely to be extended for a couple of days or so if the desired number of Rohingyas cannot be vaccinated by Thursday, according to Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Shah Rezwan Hayat.
China’s Sinopharm vaccine was used to vaccinate the Rohingyas on Tuesday. The second dose will be administered next month, say officials.
Meanwhile, the government is yet to decide on when to start vaccinating the Rohingyas living in government facilities at Bhashan Char.
There has been a recent uptick in infections in the camps, with around 20,000 cases and 200 deaths recorded among refugees since the pandemic erupted last year.
According to the office of the RRRC, as many as 2,409 Rohingyas contracted the deadly virus and 28 died since the first case emerged in May last year.
Currently, some 1.1 million Rohingyas live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and 19,000 at Bhashan Char.
“People in these camps are living in the shadow of the global vaccine divide. Widespread vaccinations are critical to contain this deadly virus," Reuters quoted Hrusikesh Harichandan, Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Cox’s Bazar.
"We need united efforts by national agencies and international organizations to help vaccinate all adults in the camps."
Bangladesh has been battling an alarming surge in infections and deaths in recent weeks, recording more than 1.36 million infections and nearly 23,000 fatalities.