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March 28, 2021

9m children in Sindh to start getting polio drops tomorrow

Karachi

March 28, 2021

As many as nine million children in 30 districts of Sindh will be given the oral polio vaccine (OPV) during a seven-day immunisation drive starting on Monday, officials said on Saturday, adding that two million children would be inoculated vaccinated in Karachi alone.

“The Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for polio in Sindh will launch a province-wide polio campaign from 29th March to 4th April 2021, as part of the national immunisation days, to give oral polio drops to around nine million children of under 5-year across the province,” an official of the polio eradication initiative in Sindh said.

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

The EOC official further said that as a result of the pandemic, the gap in campaigns from March to July coupled with routine immunisation being affected left an immunity gap in children which they had been addressing through back-to-back monthly polio campaigns since August 2020.

“Thanks to these campaigns, Sindh has not reported a single case of polio since July 2020 and a number of environment samples are also now showing negative. If we continue with the same momentum, we will further see significant results, but we must not get complacent and continue the hard work.”

The official said that while the nation was dealing with the pandemic, it must also deal with childhood immunisation to prevent childhood diseases, and the benefits of vaccination were clear as frequent campaigns had significantly reduced the burden of polio across the country.

“Children can be saved from childhood diseases like polio through vaccination and we seek the media’s help to raise awareness regarding this. Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with Afghanistan and has so far reported a total of one polio case in 2021.”

The Pakistan Pediatric Association, the Pakistan Medical Islamic Medical Association, medical experts across the world, as well as prominent scholars in Pakistan and across the region, endorse the oral polio vaccine as the safest and most effective for not only preventing polio but also eradicating it from the environment.