Volume 603 Issue 7902, 24 March 2022
Correspondence | 22 March 2022
Vaccinating women against COVID in world’s largest refugee camp
Last year’s vaccination campaign in the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which houses some 900,000 Rohingya refugees who fled genocide in Myanmar in 2017, led to more than half of the eligible population being fully vaccinated in 4 months (see go.nature.com/3q7ukca). Vaccine uptake was notably successful among women.
Among marginalized people, the vaccination rate for women is usually lower than for their male counterparts (see, for example, go.nature.com/3i6wask). This is down to gender-specific misinformation and gender gaps in accessing information and vaccination centres, for example. Nevertheless, more than 80% of women in the target group for COVID-19 vaccines were vaccinated in the first month of the Cox’s Bazar programme (see go.nature.com/3kfopy2).
Engagement with community leaders over gender-based barriers to vaccination led to education programmes designed to combat false rumours. This in turn led to the recruitment of female vaccinators, and to vaccine misinformation being discussed at women-only radio listeners’ clubs and religious group-study sessions.
As a health-care researcher who has worked with Rohingya refugees, I think this reflects the importance of including women themselves in such campaigns.