ISLAMABAD: The first Sub-National Immunisation Days (SNIDs) campaign of the year 2022 will start from today (Sunday) in which over 22.4 million children, under the age of five years, will be vaccinated against polio.

The campaign will be held in all the four provinces, covering 70 districts across Pakistan. However, the vaccination drive was started in six high-risk districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Jan 17.

According to a statement, over 150,000 trained and dedicated “Sehat Muhafiz” will be engaged in the vaccination drive to inoculate the targeted children at their doorstep. This will help build general immunity among susceptible children to protect them from polio.

“Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of eligible children. In 2022, the Polio programme will focus on sustaining the gains achieved in 2021. A targeted approach is being adopted to address the challenges in high-risk areas,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan.

“The country has recorded a historic low number of cases in 2021 and we don’t want to lose this opportunity to finally defeat this crippling disease by being vigilant and persistent,” he stated. He called on parents and caregivers to cooperate with the vaccinators for the safe future of their children.

National Coordinator of the Polio Eradication Programme Dr Shahzad Baig has said that the polio programme was optimistic about controlling poliovirus despite complex challenges.

“I urge all stakeholders to ensure accessible and quality vaccination services to all eligible children. Polio vaccine is safe, and it helps to build immunity among children against poliovirus. The repeated polio vaccination campaigns are imperative for building immunity among children and preventing possible death or lifelong paralysis,” he said.

Sehat Tahafuz Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Helpline 0346-777-65-46 will be available to assist parents and caregivers in reporting missed children and providing related information.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2022

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