Punjab set to launch polio inoculation campaign

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LAHORE: Sehat Muhafiz polio eradication teams of Punjab health department will visit house-to-house to vaccinate nearly 6.34 million children of less than five years old in 10 districts of Punjab in a campaign starting from Monday (August 6).

“The districts include DG Khan, Muzaffargarh, Lahore and Rajanpur. While selected union councils of Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Multan, Rawalpindi, RY Khan and Sheikhupura will be included in the campaign,” said coordinator of the Punjab Emergency Operations Centre for polio eradication Dr Munir Ahmad.

Ahead of the campaign, Dr Munir assured parents that polio vaccine was safe, efficacious, and approved by the government’s drug regulatory authorities. He emphasised the need for all children to be immunised during every round of immunisation campaign days.

“Multiple doses of polio vaccine are required for a child to be fully protected – sometimes more than ten. Each additional dose further strengthens a child’s immunity level against polio. Parents who do not ensure vaccination of their children are risking health and lives of their own children as well as others around them,” said Dr Munir. “As long as the virus is being detected anywhere in the country, no child is safe from being infected. Any child with low immunity will be where the virus will find refuge. We need to ensure all our children are vaccinated with two drops, every time the vaccine is offered. Parents and caregivers must also make their children fully vaccinated for all antigens.”

Punjab completed 2016 without a polio case. But a four-month child from Lodhran ended Punjab’s streak of 14 months without a case in 2017. In 2018, no polio case has been reported in Punjab. Since 2014 there has been an overall 97% reduction in polio cases in Pakistan: from 306 cases in 2014 to 8 in 2017. This year only three polio cases have been reported from Dukki, Balochistan.

Globally, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries still having polio cases. Dr Munir Ahmed stressed upon parents to call 0800-99000 helpline in case of any suggestions or complaints.

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