COVAX recently delivered 151,200 U.S.-donated vaccine doses to Yemen, where the United States funds COVID-19 response efforts for refugees and vulnerable migrants. Also in August, COVAX delivered 302,400 U.S.-donated vaccine doses to Somalia, where partner organizations are ramping up efforts to vaccinate internally displaced and nomadic peoples.
World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Somalia Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik said it is critical that vaccines reach all people equitably. An estimated 26 percent of Somalians are nomadic, and roughly 2.6 million people in the country are displaced.
“It is only with support from donors such as the Government of the United States of America that [we will] be able to reach all eligible people, particularly vulnerable populations and those living in difficult-to-reach locations,” he said.
The United States also supports UNICEF and the World Food Programme, which are ensuring vaccines reach isolated communities, including some not accessible by road.
In Nepal, COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts benefit from UNICEF’s long-standing effort to develop cold-chain infrastructure, such as cold rooms, refrigerators and freezers at provincial and local levels, as well cold storage boxes. These are needed to safely transport vaccines.
“Everyone should be given a chance to protect themselves,” Bir Singh Kunwar, 55, of Nepal, said after receiving a vaccine dose through COVAX.
The United States also supports Jordan and Bangladesh’s vaccination campaigns. Both nations are vaccinating refugees from neighboring countries. Bangladesh, which has received 6.5 million U.S.-donated vaccine doses, is working to vaccinate Rohingya refugees, who live at Cox’s Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh near the border with Burma.
In August, the Government of Bangladesh vaccinated 36,943 of 43,093, or 85.7%, of Rohingya refugees, aged 55 and older, living at Cox’s Bazar, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Aesha, a 62-year-old refugee from Syria, got her vaccine after a COVAX delivery to the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan in March. COVAX, which has received $4 billion to support vaccinations worldwide, delivered additional doses to the camp in April and May.
“The vaccine is protection for us all,” Aesha said. “I am very grateful.”