ISLAMABAD           -        Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme (PPEP) is set to launch a sub-national anti-polio drive in the country this week to immunize 34 million children in over one hundred districts.

The PPEP in a statement on Tuesday said it would launch a sub-national polio eradication campaign to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five in 130 districts across Pakistan. 

The polio eradication campaign will start in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tomorrow (August 13), in Punjab and Sindh on August 15 and in Balochistan and AJK on August 17. 

The statement said to build immunity amongst susceptible children, vaccinators would go door-to-door during the campaign to administer the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to children under the age of five, as well as Vitamin A supplements to children who are between 6-59 months of age. 

“It is imperative that Pakistan continues its fight against polio with an already accessible, safe and widely used vaccine that has saved countless children from polio worldwide. I am hopeful that parents will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign in August and help our nation ultimately end the threat of polio,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health.  

Similar to the last campaign held in July, polio vaccinators will continue to adhere to stringent operating procedures while vaccinating children in order to protect themselves and families from COVID-19.  Vaccinators have thereby been trained ahead of the campaign to undertake prevention measures, including keeping a safe distance from children and families while administering drops and ensuring that parents themselves hold their children. “In addition, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme has provided vaccinators with face masks and hand sanitizers for additional protection,” the PPEP statement said. 

According to Dr. Rana Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, the campaign would help Pakistan tackle increased virus transmission within hotspots of virus circulation across the nation. 

“The August campaign is much bigger than the last campaign held in July. We are hoping to reach many more vulnerable children. I was encouraged with the success of our last campaign, particularly how parents cooperated with vaccinators despite the COVID-19 environment, and how our vaccinators followed the safety precautions they were trained on. I believe that if we continue to learn and adapt to the current environment, we can continue to fight the poliovirus head on,” said Dr. Rana Safdar.

To maintain such momentum in polio eradication, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme has planned additional sub-national campaigns in September this year, followed by back-to-back national vaccination campaigns across the country between October, November and December.