KARACHI: Over 7.4 million children under the age of five years will be inoculated during a week-long polio immunisation campaign being launched on Monday (today) in 22 districts of Sindh.

Over 2.2 million children would be vaccinated in Karachi.

According to a spokesperson for the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) for Polio in Sindh, the vaccination staff would be given necessary protective gear against coronavirus infection and they would be following all WHO recommended protocols for Covid-19.

“This includes wearing masks, using hand sanitiser, knocking on doors with pens and elbows rather than hands and not directly handling children. While we are dealing with the pandemic, it’s very important to ensure childhood vaccination for preventable diseases including polio,” he said, urging parents to get their children immunised.

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. This situation has been addressed by the government through back-to-back campaigns since August 2020.

“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. All environment samples in Sindh are also found free of the poliovirus for the first time in three years,” said EOC coordinator Fayaz Abbasi.

There was no doubt that progress had been made but there was no room for complacency and efforts must be strengthened to capitalise on the progress achieved so that the country could be made polio free, he added.

This year, only one polio case has been reported in Pakistan; in Balochistan in January 2021.

The Pakistan Paediatric Association, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association as well as religious clerics endorse the oral polio vaccine as the safest and most effective way for not only preventing polio but also eradicating it from the country.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd , 2021

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