KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday launched a major immunization drive to vaccinate children in the age group of five to 11 against Covid-19. The drive will continue till Sept 24.
“Today, the campaign kicked off in all the seven districts of Karachi division and Hyderabad district targeting 2.4 million children in the first phase,” Dr Samreen Ashraf Qureshi, the provincial focal person for Covid-19 vaccination, told Dawn.
She said that the first day went smoothly and there were no reports of any adverse event.
The second dose of the vaccine would be administered after 21 days, she added.
2.4m kids in Karachi and Hyderabad are being administered jabs
According to her, preparations for the exercise have been under way for two months during which doctors, vaccinators and attendants received required training and all stakeholders including school managements and parents are taken on board.
“Under the standard operating procedures (SOPs) adopted, vaccination area would be separate and no child would be vaccinated in front of another child. Also, schools are required to set a date for vaccination and inform parents about it in advance so the child could be vaccinated in their presence.
“While schools are the main site for vaccination, a door-to-door campaign is also being launched to cover children not enrolled in schools,” Dr Qureshi explained.
According to health department officials, Karachi division and Hyderabad district have been found to be most affected in terms of Covid morbidity and mortality in the 5-11 year demographic during a survey conducted from March 2020 to August 2022.
The high-risk areas are: Karachi’s Central, East, Korangi, Malir, South, West, Keamari districts and Hyderabad.
To cover 70 per cent children in these districts, 3.4m doses of Covid vaccines would be administered in phases.
Awareness campaigns held to sensitise parents
Meanwhile, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho officially launched the immunization drive along with Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Islamabad Andrew Schofer at the EPI Hall.
Representatives of WHO, Unicef, Pakistan Paediatric Association, Extended Programme for Immunization and Emergency Operation Centre were in attendance.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Pechuho said all preparations had been made to make the campaign successful.
“To avoid refusals, the education department and the paediatric association have conducted awareness campaigns to sensitise parents and inform them of the need to vaccinate their children and protect them from Covid. Also, teams are closely monitoring report of any adverse event [any serious reaction/side-effect of the vaccine],” she said.
She said that the Pfizer vaccine had been studied extensively and found safe both for adults and children.
“Teams have been provided with required supplies which include special smaller doses for the Covid-19 vaccine, insulin syringes [that are thinner and less painful than regular syringes],” the minister said.
Mr Schofer informed the meeting that there were eight million doses of the paediatric Covid-19 vaccine and as many more doses would be arriving in October.
In Sindh, the total urban population in the age group between five and 11 years is 3.6m whereas the overall number of children in this group is six million.
The number of human resource engaged in this campaign is 16,000.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2022