Around one million children across the country could not be administered polio vaccine drops during the three-day National Immunization Days due to multiple reasons including unrest, flooding, internal migration and negligence of vaccinators, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pakistan’s polio monitoring officials said on Wednesday.
Officials of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) would launch a ‘special catch-up campaign’ from October 18-19 (Thursday and Friday) to administer polio vaccine drops to around one million children, who missed the drops due to unrest in Balochistan, flooding in Sindh, internal migration in Punjab and carelessness of vaccinators in other areas.
WHO’s Senior Coordinator for Polio Vaccination in Pakistan Dr. Elias Durry confirmed the number of children who were unable to get polio vaccine drops, saying it was a “cause of concern for the authorities”.
“While we can celebrate the achievement of vaccinating a million children during every polio campaign, finding and vaccinating the repeatedly missed children should be the top priority of all teams across the country”, he observed.
According to the data obtained from the Federal EPI Cell’s Polio Control Room, a total of 998,569 children, in all 183 districts and areas of the country, were not administered polio drops in the national door to door campaign.
The total target population of the drive was almost 31.996 million. Officials in the polio control room said some 292,883 children from the total target population of 7.49 million of Sindh were missed.
Karachi, due to its massive population, had the greatest number children missed at 78,618, of which 8,126 belonged to Korangi Town alone.
Khairpur followed Karachi with 20,654 missed children. District Sanghar and Larkana closely followed with 18,917 and 32,948 missed children.
October 18 and 19 were catch-up days to target these children specifically, he added.
“These thousands of missed children should be searched for during the polio campaign,” Dr Durry stressed.