A small-scale anti-polio campaign will begin in Karachi from July 20. This will be the first campaign to take place after immunisation drives were suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The campaign will be carried out in high-risk areas of the city: Baldia, Orangi, North Nazimabad, Liaqatabad and SITE towns.
Around 260,000 children under five years will receive the oral polio vaccine (OPV), Sindh’s Emergency Operation Centre for Polio confirmed Tuesday.
Following the Karachi campaign, there will be monthly campaigns in Sindh until the end of the year.
“These campaigns are of the utmost importance as we must give children the oral polio vaccine to save them from polio and to ensure a healthy future for them,” the Sindh EOC spokesperson said.
Pakistan has so far reported a total of 59 polio cases out of which 20 cases are from Sindh.
The spokesperson added: We have been set back by the COVID pandemic when global polio campaigns were halted in March and it is absolutely necessary now that these vaccines are provided to fill the immunity gap in children.
Routine childhood immunisation was also affected, leaving children more vulnerable to the virus than before.
Speaking about the safety precautions being taken during the pandemic, he said they were taking all WHO-recommended precautionary measures for the upcoming campaigns.
“Parents have nothing to fear,” the spokesperson said. “Our workers have been provided sanitisers, masks, gloves and will not directly handle any child, not knock on doors and not interact closely with parents, spending minimum time at the doorsteps.”
The EOC has urged parents to cooperate with anti-polio teams. The Sindh government adds that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risk of transmission after COVID-19.
These door-to-door campaigns will also raise awareness on coronavirus prevention and guide parents about other essential vaccinations and antenatal care services (medical care after the birth of the baby).
The Pakistan Pediatric Association, medical experts around the world and major religious scholars across Pakistan endorse the oral polio vaccine, the EOC Sindh said.
It is the safest and most effective method for protecting against polio and also eradicating the virus from the environment.
Ten billion doses of this vaccine have been given to three billion children across the world in the last decade. As a result of this, 10 million potential polio cases have been prevented.