The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme will launch a sub-national polio eradication campaign this week to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five in 130 districts across the country, it said Tuesday.
The campaign will start in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from August 13. It will be launched in Punjab and Sindh from August 15, and in Balochistan and Azad Kashmir from August 17. The campaign is being conducted after resumption of anti-polio activities in July 2020, following a four-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To build immunity among susceptible children, vaccinators will go door-to-door during this campaign to administer the oral polio vaccine to children under the age of five, as well as Vitamin A supplements to children who are between 6-59 months of age.
“It is imperative that Pakistan continues its fight against polio with an already accessible, safe and widely used vaccine that has saved countless children from polio worldwide,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, special assistant to PM on health.
“I am hopeful that parents will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign in August and help our nation ultimately end the threat of polio.”
Polio vaccinators will continue to adhere to stringent operating procedures while vaccinating children in order to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. They have been trained ahead of the campaign to undertake preventive measures. In addition, the PPEP has provided vaccinators with face masks and hand sanitisers for additional protection.
The campaign in August will help Pakistan tackle increased virus transmission within hotspots of virus circulation across the nation, according to Dr Rana Safdar, coordinator of the PPEP’s National Emergency Operations Centre.
“The August campaign is much bigger than the last campaign held in July, we are hoping to reach many more vulnerable children,” Dr Safdar said.
“I was encouraged with the success of our last campaign, particularly how parents cooperated with vaccinators despite the COVID environment, and how our vaccinators followed the COVID safety precautions they were trained on,” he said. “I believe that if we continue to learn and adapt to the current environment, we can continue to fight the polio virus head on.”
To maintain such momentum in polio eradication, the PPEP said, it has planned additional sub-national campaigns in September, followed by back-to-back national vaccination campaigns from October to December.