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November 29, 2020

Over 9m kids to get polio drops in drive starting in Sindh on Monday

Karachi

November 29, 2020

More than nine million children will be administered oral polio vaccine (OPV) during the national vaccination drive in 29 districts of Sindh in a campaign stating on Monday, November 30.

The campaign will continue till December 6, during which over two million children will also be reached in Karachi, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) officials said on Saturday.

“The Emergency Operation Centre for Polio in Sindh will launch a province-wide polio campaign on November 30, 2020, which will run till December 6, 2020, as part of the national immunisation days. Polio drops will be given to approximately nine million children under five years of age across the 29 districts of the province,” an official of the EOC said.

The campaign will be conducted whilst following strict WHO-recommended Covid-19 prevention protocols, which include the wearing of masks by workers, their temperatures being checked before deployment, not handling children directly, not entering houses, spending a limited time with families, knocking on doors with pens, rulers or elbows rather than hands while reducing the length of meetings and attendance in meetings.

The official maintained that as a result of the pandemic, the gap in polio campaigns from March to July as well as in routine immunisation had left an immunity gap in children, which was being addressed through back-to-back monthly polio campaigns since August.

“If we continue with the same momentum, we will soon see significant results. While we deal with the pandemic, we must also deal with childhood immunisation to prevent childhood diseases,” the official said, adding that children could be saved from diseases like polio through vaccination and the media should help to raise awareness about this.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan and has so far reported 81 cases in 2020, out of which 22 cases are from Sindh.

The Pakistan Pediatric Association, medical experts across the world and major religious scholars across Pakistan and the region endorse the oral polio vaccine, which is safest and most effective for not only preventing polio but also eradicating it from the environment.

Ten billion doses of this vaccine have been given to three billion children across the world in the last decade, as a result of which 10 million polio cases have been avoided.