Nearly 50K Rohingyas, aged 55 years and above, will be vaccinated in three days
Bangladesh government is all set to start vaccinating the Rohingya refugees of the camps in Cox's Bazar from Tuesday under its walk-in mass vaccination drive.
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, Cox's Bazar Civil Surgeon Dr Mahbubur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune on Sunday.
“Community health workers are distributing special Covid-19 vaccination cards among the eligible refugees since the Rohingyas are not Bangladeshi citizens,” he added.
The three-day program is likely to be extended for a couple of days or so if the desired number of Rohingyas cannot be vaccinated by Thursday, said Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Shah Rezwan Hayat.
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.
Vaccination at the camps will continue from 8:30am to 2:30pm. China’s Sinopharm vaccine will be used to vaccinate the Rohingyas. The second dose will be administered next month, say officials.
Currently, some 1.1 million Rohingyas live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and 19,000 at Bhashan Char.
Of them, nearly 750,000 refugees crossed the border to Bangladesh after the brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in 2017, which the UN said was carried out with “genocidal intent”. The Bangladesh government has been campaigning globally to ensure a safe repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland.
The decision to vaccinate the Rohingyas against coronavirus comes six months after the government began its mass inoculation program on February 7 with the Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs.
As per next week’s weather forecast, the monsoon can interrupt the Rohingya inoculation program.
Also Read- Covid-19: Cases surging in Rohingya camps
“The IOM-managed health facilities are ready to support the government during the inoculation drive since rain flood mitigation is also active. The selected facilities are for now safe and accessible to the refugees,” said IOM's Deputy Chief of Mission Manuel Marques Pereira.
The Rohingya refugees have welcomed the government move and urged the authorities to vaccinate more of their people.
“Everyone is at the risk of being infected at the densely populated camps,” said Mohammad Khaled, who lives at the Balukhali camp in Ukhiya.
Meanwhile, the government is yet to decide on when to start vaccinating the Rohingyas living in government facilities at Bhashan Char.
“Bhashan Char will also come under our vaccination drive gradually. But the government has yet to make a schedule for it,” said RRR Commissioner Shah Rezwan Hayat.
Under the mass vaccination program, which started on Saturday, the government aims to vaccinate 3.2 million people within a week. Some three million people were vaccinated on the first day of the countrywide mass inoculation drive.
As of Saturday, more than 2.7% of people in the country have been fully vaccinated.
The government plans to vaccinate 10 million people by the end of August as per the availability of jabs.