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Bangladesh kicked off a vaccination drive on Tuesday for thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees at Cox’s Bazar — the world’s largest refugee camp, according to Reuters.
There are close to 890,00 Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The majority fled from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh in 2017, after a crackdown by the Myanmar military.
Humanitarian workers have long warned of the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the often cramped and unsanitary conditions at the refugee camps. It’s estimated that 2,600 COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths have occurred in the camps, according to the Associated Press.
Those aged 55 and above will be getting their shots first, Mahbubur Rahman, Cox’s Bazar district chief health officer, told Reuters. About 48,000 were expected to receive their dose between Tuesday and Thursday.
“This is just the beginning. All adult Rohingya people will be vaccinated in phases,” Rahman said.
The vaccination began as the South Asian country is seeing an uptick in cases. The country has registered close to 1.4 million COVID-19 cases, with more than 350,000 recorded in the past month alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Bangladesh is also struggling with vaccinations, with only 2.8% of its 163 million population fully vaccinated, per data from Johns Hopkins.