17.41m children vaccinated in first phase of polio drive


The government has successfully completed the first phase of polio vaccination campaign to immunize more than 17.41 million children under the age of five years in Sindh and Punjab. The five-day vaccination campaign was held in two phases due to the concurring activities of the seventh national census. In the first phase, over 17.41 million children under the age of five in 13 districts of Punjab and 16 districts of Sindh and Islamabad were vaccinated from March 13 to 17.

The second phase will be held from April 03 to 07 – during the second week of Ramazan – to vaccinate more than 4.12 million children in 12 districts of Balochistan and 26 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including the seven endemic districts in the southern region of the province. Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel urged parents and caregivers to ensure that their children receive the life-saving polio vaccine so that they remain protected from poliovirus, which has been found circulating in environmental samples.

“The presence of wild polio in the environment shows that the virus is circulating in our communities and posing a serious risk to our children,” said Abdul Qadir Patel, the minister. “During Ramazan, population movements can increase the risk of further spread, therefore, it is critical that parents and caregivers vaccinate their children in this and every campaign,” the minister said.

“We have specifically designed this March campaign to reach areas where population movement is not just frequent but also expected during Ramazan and Eid festival,” said Dr Shahzad Baig, National Emergency Operations Center. “It is essential that we reach as many children as possible with the vaccine now to curb polio transmission,” he added.