More than 34 million Pakistani children to be vaccinated against polio

More than 34 million Pakistani children to be vaccinated against polio

Islamabad: The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme will launch a sub-national polio eradication campaign this week to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five in 130 districts across Pakistan. This polio eradication campaign will start from 13th August in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 15th August in Punjab and Sindh, and 17th August in Balochistan and AJK. The campaign will be conducted following the successful resumption of polio activities in July 2020 after a four-month suspension due to COVID-19 pandemic.

To build immunity amongst susceptible children, vaccinators will go door-to-door during this campaign to administer the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to children under the age of five, as well as Vitamin A supplements to children who are between 6-59 months of age.

“It is imperative that Pakistan continues its fight against polio with an already accessible, safe and widely used vaccine that has saved countless children from polio worldwide. I am hopeful that parents will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign in August and help our nation ultimately end the threat of polio,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health.

As with the last campaign held in July, polio vaccinators will continue to adhere to stringent operating procedures while vaccinating children in order to protect themselves and families from COVID-19.  Vaccinators have thereby been trained ahead of the campaign to undertake prevention measures, including keeping a safe distance from children and families while administering drops and ensuring that parents themselves hold their children. In addition, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme has provided vaccinators with face masks and hand sanitizers for additional protection.

According to Dr. Rana Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, the campaign in August will help Pakistan tackle increased virus transmission within hotspots of virus circulation across the nation.

“The August campaign is much bigger than the last campaign held in July, we are hoping to reach many more vulnerable children. I was encouraged with the success of our last campaign, particularly how parents cooperated with vaccinators despite the COVID environment, and how our vaccinators followed the COVID safety precautions they were trained on. I believe that if we continue to learn and adapt to the current environment, we can continue to fight the polio virus head on,” said Dr. Rana Safdar.

To maintain such momentum in polio eradication, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme has planned additional sub-national campaigns in September of this year, followed by back-to-back national vaccination campaigns across the country between October, November and December.