The Sindh Expanded Programme of Immunisation for children under five years was not halted during the coronavirus pandemic, however, it had slowed down as people feared going to EPI centres because of the virus, Provincial Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said Thursday.
The Sindh health minister said she had directed health officials to continue vaccinating children during this time.
Immunisation centres remained open but fewer people turned up with their children. The immunisation rate fell during April and May because of this and also due to vaccinators testing positive for COVID-19.
Though the rate increased in the past month, it still wasn’t satisfactory, Dr Pechuho said at the EPI’S quarterly review meeting. People need to be encouraged to visit EPI facilities, she added.
Health officials had been going door to door to immunise children, according to the health minister. She instructed Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator Mr Fayyaz Abbasi and Programme Director EPI Dr Akram Sultan to resolve issues related to vaccinators.
Families can also get their children vaccinated at mobile health units in high risk union councils, Dr Sultan said. These units were made available in Karachi with the support of the Indus Health Network.
The extended outreach services were launched in all of Sindh’s districts with WHO’s help between June 15 and June 27, he said. Around 200,000 children under the age of two were vaccinated against 10 diseases.
These are: childhood TB, polio, rotavirus, pneumonia, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Hib (influenza) and measles.
EPI officials are visiting field sites to make sure that the programme runs smoothly, according to Dr Sultan.
The provincial health minister said that negligence will not be tolerated when it comes to missed doses of children and the district health officials were to monitor the situation.