Over 40 mln children received anti-polio drops in second drive

ISLAMABAD, Apr 30 (APP): Over 40 million children under five years vaccinated during the second nationwide anti-polio campaign of the year.

The campaign was conducted in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan during which, more than 285,000 Sehat Tahafuz frontline workers visited families and caregivers going house-to-house to ensure vaccination of children from the crippling poliovirus.

The programme is successfully achieving its targets to build the immunity of children that remain at risk of polio. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan said “While we focus on new vaccines, such as COVID-19, there remains a need to ensure routine vaccinations are not missed.”

“We know many children have missed their vaccines and it is critical to accept vaccines every time they are offered by the teams,” Dr. Faisal Sultan added highlighting the importance of the polio vaccine.

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He said that Polio workers are our real heroes, who made this critical campaign successful and achieved 100 percent results amid third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI), Dr. Shahzad Baig said that the programme has witnessed a great reduction in the number of polio cases since January 2021.

He added only one wild polio case has been reported in Pakistan over the last four months. “It is a result of tremendous efforts and hard work of our teams.” He said, “The support of parents, community leaders, security forces, media and religious leaders helped our frontline workers to reach children in need and is highly commendable.”

He said that the Sehat Tahhafuz helpline 1166 and Whatsapp helpline 03467776546 helped parents assist in reporting missed children during the campaign, and all reported missed children received the vaccination.

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He said that the polio vaccination campaigns are imperative for building immunity among children, preventing possible death or lifelong paralysis.

He said that 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, he added.

Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free. Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbor Afghanistan.