ISLAMABAD - The sub-national polio eradication campaign will start from Monday in Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to vaccinate children under five year.

According to an official of Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, total 130 districts will be covered across the country to vaccinate 34 million children as this polio eradication campaign already started from August 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and from August 15 in Punjab and Sindh.

He said that the campaign would be conducted following the successful resumption of polio activities in July 2020 after a four-month suspension due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

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

He said that it was imperative that Pakistan continued its fight against polio with an already accessible, safe and widely used vaccine that had saved countless children from polio worldwide. 

Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) of the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, Dr. Rana Safdar said that 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 environment, and how our vaccinators followed the COVID safety precautions they were trained on.” 

He said “I believe that if we continue to learn and adapt to the current environment, we can continue to fight the polio virus head on.” He said that to maintain such momentum in polio eradication, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme had planned additional sub-national campaigns in September of this year, followed by back-to-back national vaccination campaigns across the country between October, November and December.

He expressed the hope that parents would continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign in August and help the nation ultimately end the threat of polio. He said that vaccinators had 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. He said that the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme had provided vaccinators with face masks and hand sanitizers for additional protection.