LAHORE - On imposition of travel sanctions on Pakistan due to fear of wild poliovirus exportation, those going abroad are to get vaccinated between four weeks and 12 months prior to departure.

However, those undertaking urgent travel but have not received a dose of OPV or IPV in the previous four weeks to 12 months, could go ahead with their plans after receiving a dose of vaccine before departure.

Failure of the government to cover complete segments of society in the Expanded Programme of Immunization and resultant circulation of wild poliovirus in the country has increased hardships of frequent travelers as they would be needed to go through the agony of updating vaccination record on regular basis and keeping a certificate with them along with travel documents.

Pakistan is one of the three countries held responsible for exportation of wild poliovirus. 

In central Asia, polio virus has been exported from Pakistan to Afghanistan, in the Middle East from Syrian Arab Republic to Iraq and in Central Africa from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea.  These countries are needed to declare at the level of head of state that the interruption of poliovirus transmission was a national public health emergency, ensure that all residents and long-term visitors (i.e. > 4 weeks) receive a dose of OPV or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) between 4 weeks and 12 months prior to international travel,  ensure that those undertaking urgent travel (i.e. within 4 weeks), who have not received a dose of OPV or IPV in the previous 4 weeks to 12 months, receive a dose of polio vaccine at least by the time of departure and ensure that such travelers are provided with an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in the form specified form to record their polio vaccination and serve as proof of vaccination. 

Meanwhile, Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab on Health Kh Salman Rafiq has said that sanctions on Pakistan would be highly unfortunate. 

Talking to the media after administering polio drops in Sanntnagar in connection with 3-day anti-polio campaign, he said that it was necessary to ensure access of polio teams to no-go areas in other provinces.

Kh Salman Rafiq said that due to the effective and concrete steps Punjab was polio-free during current year. He said that thousands of children of KPK province are deprived of polio vaccine due to geopolitical condition.

 He said that the environmental sample which proved positive few days ago in Lahore was similar to that circulating in KPK.

He said that three consecutive polio campaigns would be carried out in Lahore during the month of May. He said that first campaign is being carried out from 5th to 7th May, while other two campaigns would be launched in the second and third week of the month.

He said that special anti-polio campaigns have been scheduled in ten high risk districts including DG Khan, Lahore, Mianwali, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Rawalpindi, Rahim Yar Khan, Sahiwal and Toba Tik Singh.

He said that Punjab government has made arrangements for vaccination of children travelling by buses or trains through Punjab and check posts have been set up at all entry points.