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Pakistan Launches First Polio Vaccination Campaign in 2021

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Over 40 million children will be vaccinated against polio along with a supplementary dose of Vitamin A in a nationwide door-to-door campaign

ISLAMABAD, 10 January 2021: – A five-day national polio immunisation drive will start from 11th January 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 this 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 sanitizer, 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 reach the goal of a polio-free Pakistan which requires full support of the nation, especially from communities and the 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, Regulations and Coordination.

The year 2021 presents a unique opportunity to leverage the gains made in 2020. The programme implemented six high-quality campaigns in 2020 with the support of various stakeholders and the dedication of our heroes, the frontline workers. The frontline workers defied the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and safely implemented the high-quality campaigns.

“In 2021, we are looking forward to sustaining the gains achieved in 2020. Alongside our plans to conduct quality polio campaigns, we are continuing our efforts to enhance essential immunisation coverage across Pakistan. Repeated campaigns are imperative to give a quick immunity boost to children under the age of five,” said Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar, Director General of Health and Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).

“With our highly 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.

The programme will continue to sustain high levels of leadership support across the political and society segments, and will further strengthen programme implementation structures, engage better with priority communities, reinforce essential immunization, deliver integrated services to underserved communities, and maintain its coordination with Afghanistan counterparts for synergy in planned campaigns in 2021 with the aim of interrupting the spread of poliovirus across the shared epidemiological block between both countries.

It is pertinent to mention that the Polio Programme is working in partnership with various segments of Pakistani society including communities, local influencers, pediatric and medical associations, media, social activists, religious leaders, sports associations and the Pakistan Cricket Board, and many others. They are all supportive of vaccination and the goal of reaching a polio free Pakistan.

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

Note for the Editor:

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.

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Mr. Zulfiqar Babakhel, Media Manager, NEOC, 0345-9165937

Email: zababakhel@gmail.com