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Thursday December 09, 2021

Pakistan launches first polio vaccination campaign of 2021

By News Desk
January 11, 2021

ISLAMABAD: A five-day national polio immunization drive starts today (January 11) to vaccinate over 40 million children under the age of five across Pakistan. A supplementary dose of Vitamin A drops will also be administered to children aged 6 to 59 months during the campaign. This will help build general immunity among susceptible children to protect them from polio and other diseases.

Around 285,000 polio frontline workers will visit parents and caregivers at their doorstep, adhering to strict COVID-19 precautionary measures and protocols while vaccinating children. These measures will include wearing a mask, using hand sanitiser, and maintaining a safe distance during the vaccination.

“Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of children. This is key to reduce the immunity gap and to protect our children against polio and other diseases. The government is committed to reaching the goal of a polio-free Pakistan which requires full support of the nation, especially from communities, parents and caregivers of children under the age of 5 years,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services.

“The year 2021 presents a unique opportunity to leverage the gains made in 2020, which included the implementation of six high-quality campaigns by frontline workers who defied the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” a press release issued on Sunday states.

“Alongside our plans to conduct quality polio campaigns, we are continuing our efforts to enhance essential immunization coverage across Pakistan. Repeated campaigns are imperative to give a quick immunity boost to children under five,” said Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar, Director General of Health and Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI). “With our committed frontline workers, and the cooperation of parents and caregivers, the programme aims to restrict the geographic scope of poliovirus circulation to the high-risk areas only and get closer to the goal of eradication in 2021,” Dr Rana added.

Among other initiatives, the polio leadership will continue to maintain coordination with its counterparts in Afghanistan for synergy in planned campaigns in 2021 in order to interrupt the spread of poliovirus across the shared epidemiological block between both countries. With 82 cases in 2020, Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan.