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April 22, 2021

Over 40 million children vaccinated against polio

Islamabad

April 22, 2021

Islamabad : More than 40 million children under five years received vaccination during the second nationwide anti-polio campaign of the year. The campaign was conducted from March 29 to April 2 in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and from to April 11 to 15 in Balochistan.

During the campaign, more than 285,000 ‘Sehat Tahafuz frontline workers visited families and caregivers going house-to-house and ensured vaccination of children from the crippling poliovirus. The programme is achieving its targets to build the immunity of children that remain at risk of polio.

“While we focus on new vaccines, such as COVID-19, there remains a need to ensure routine vaccinations are not missed. We know many children have missed their vaccines and it is critical to accept vaccines every time they are offered by the teams,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (Health), highlighting the importance of the polio vaccine. “Polio workers are our real heroes, who made this critical campaign successful and achieved 100 per cent results amid third wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.”

“The programme has witnessed a great reduction in number of polio cases since January 2021. Only one wild polio case has been reported in Pakistan over the last four months. It is a result of tremendous hard work of our teams,” said Dr. Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI). “The support of parents, community leaders, security forces, media and religious leaders helped our frontline workers to reach children in need and is highly commendable.”

The Sehat Tahhafuz Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Helpline 0346-777-65-46 helped parents assist in reporting missed children during the campaign, and all reported missed children received the vaccination. The polio vaccination campaigns are imperative for building immunity among children, preventing possible death or lifelong paralysis.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbour Afghanistan.