KARACHI: The Sindh health department has claimed to have given first dose of Covid vaccine to 2.47 million children — more than the targeted population of children aged between five and 11 years — in a week-long drive in seven districts of Karachi division and Hyderabad district.

The final data showed that out of the targeted 2.38m children, the authorities succeeded in vaccinating 2.47m children in the drive launched on Sept 19 and concluded on Sept 25.

The drive went on steadily since day one and the number continued to grow with each passing day.

According to the data, a total of 2,479,034 children have been inoculated including 263,978 children on Sept 19; followed by 347,337 on Sept 20; 401,079 on Sept 21; 463,795 on Sept 22; 481,808 on Sept 23; 416,404 on Sept 24 and 104,633 children were vaccinated on the final day of the drive.

Health dept crosses 2.38m target in Karachi division and district Hyderabad

While schools remained the main site for vaccination, a door-to-door campaign was also launched to cover children not enrolled in schools.

Karachi’s district East topped among others, where 378,853 children were vaccinated. In Hyderabad, 303,299 children were inoculated in the weeklong drive.

The officials, who were earlier not sure about the response of parents to allow their children to get the first dose of Covid jab, witnessed a pleasant surprise and experienced a “very ignorable number” of the guardians who rejected the government initiative and denied vaccine to their children.

Less than 0.2m refusals

In Karachi division and Hyderabad district, the officials said parents of 160,274 children had refused to allow vaccination.

The authorities claimed that the target was of 2.38m children aged between five and 11 years was set as 80 per cent of total population of this age group lives in the two cities.

However, availability of higher number of vaccines and less than estimated wastage of the doses helped covering the larger number of population than the target.

“The response is highly positive,” said Dr Irshad Memon, the project director of the Sindh Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI). “The vaccination teams performed up to the mark. Our primary target was schools but the teams also carried out door-to-door vaccination for the children who were not enrolled in any school.”

He said this strategy helped to cover maximum number of children. “After completion of the first phase of the campaign, the drive for the second dose of the vaccine will be launched after three weeks,” he said.

The official said that the hard work of the Sindh health administration finally paid off as preparations for the exercise were under way for the last two months during which doctors, vaccinators and attendants received required training and all stakeholders including school managements and parents were taken on board.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2022

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