Vaccinating in conflict zones

Hammering out temporary ceasefires in conflict zones will be necessary to vaccinate enough people against COVID-19 so that the pandemic can be brought to an end, according to humanitarian professionals.

But negotiating such ceasefires won’t be easy, said experts quoted in an August 25, 2021, article by Madeline Drexler, visiting scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and former editor of Harvard Public Health magazine.

To broker successful time-outs in fighting, humanitarian mediators must stay politically neutral amid warring factions—often including unpredictable nonstate actors—and must engage with others groups, including teachers, elders, local businesspeople, and more, according to the article. Vaccine hesitancy and other pressing needs can also pose a challenge to vaccination efforts.

Several Harvard Chan School experts were quoted in the article, including Caroline Buckee, associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease DynamicsJennifer Leaning, senior research fellow at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University; and Claude Bruderlein, adjunct professor on global health and population.

Read the Undark article: Humanitarians Push to Vaccinate in Conflict Zones