Tuesday September 21, 2021

Polio vaccination drive begins in South, East districts

Polio vaccination drive begins in South, East districts

A polio vaccination campaign kicked off in District South on Monday morning in an inauguration ceremony held at the Aga Khan University Hospital’s (AKUH) Clifton Branch, UC11, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner Irshad Sodhar.

Polio vaccinators attended the event after which they went off to conduct the drive. According to Additional Commissioner-I of District South, the campaign is underway in the entire city.

The reason for holding the inaugural ceremony in the District South, he said, was to spread awareness regarding the polio drive. “Media can play a very important role in spreading awareness regarding polio,” he stressed, adding that the polio staff were very well-trained and such ceremonies helped boost their morale.

“There’s no cure for polio, but prevention and vaccination,” he said. As for the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), he said that all vaccinators and staff who were to go to the field for vaccination had all sorts of required material, such as masks and hand sanitisers. All the vaccinators, he said, had already been vaccinated against the coronavirus, so the families needed not to worry about getting infected with the Covid-19.

He shared how the entire district and all its UCs would be covered in the drive. The target of the District South’s polio team is to administer polio drops to 164,000 children for which they have 23 areas incharges and 50 Union Committee medical officers (UCMOs). In the past, he said, they had covered 98 percent of their targets and this time they planned to cover more.

In District East, the deputy commissioner, Asif Jan Siddiqui, initiated the polio vaccination drive by administering polio drops to a child in Jannat Gul Hospital in Sohrab Goth. The anti-polio vaccination drive will remain underway until August 8. Siddiqui explained how polio was a very dangerous disease, and children up to five years of age must be administered polio drops. In District East, he said, 367,459 children would be administered polio drops for which as many as 2057 teams would work in the field. As many as 502 supervisors would remain in the field to monitor the teams.

According to a press statement from the Emergency Operation Centre for Polio that works under the Sindh government, the province has not reported a single polio case for more than one year.

The Emergency Operation Centre for Polio in Sindh will conduct a seven-day polio immunisation campaign in 22 districts. The drive kicked off on August 2 and will last till August 8 to inoculate approximately 7.4 million children under five years of age against the crippling disease. Out of the 7.4 million target, more than 2.2 million children reside in Karachi.

The workers of the polio vaccination campaign have been given the necessary protective gear for their protection against coronavirus infection and will be following all World Health Organisation-recommended protocols to keep themselves and others safe from Covid-19.

“This includes the wearing of masks, using hand sanitizers, knocking on doors with pens and elbows rather than hands and not directly handling children. While we deal with the pandemic, it’s also very important to ensure childhood vaccinations, and we urge parents to bring their

children forward for vaccination.”

Polio vaccination drives and routine immunisation came to a halt in Sindh last year from March to July, following the Covid-19 outbreak. "This created an immunity gap among children and badly affected the polio situation in the country. However, we have been addressing this through back-to-back campaigns since August 2020 and have come a long way to protect children from this deadly virus," said the EOC Sindh spokesperson.

Sindh has not reported a single polio case for more than one year and this shows that the polio vaccine is effective in controlling the virus, and parents should bring forward their under-five children for vaccination during every campaign to build their immunity.

Coordinator EOC Sindh Fayaz Abbasi said: "Good progress has been made but there is no room for complacency and we must double our efforts to ensure that we sustain and capitalise on the progress made. There is a lot more work to be done to ensure a polio-free Sindh and a polio-free Pakistan."

The benefits of vaccination are clear as frequent campaigns have significantly reduced the burden of polio across the country. There is only one case in all of Pakistan this year, which was reported from Balochistan in January 2021.

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