Polio vaccination campaigns across all four of Pakistan's provinces started on Monday, with the duration and number of target children varying in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Punjab.

This is the first nationwide campaign in the country after its four-month suspension due to COVID-19 outbreak during which 40 million children below five years of age will be administered the anti-polio vaccine.

The scope of this campaign is much larger and seeks to vaccinate all children through door-to-door visits by almost 270,000 vaccinators all over the country.

The polio vaccinators have received comprehensive training on how to vaccinate safely within the COVID-19 context.

A spokesperson for the Sindh Health Department said the seven-day anti-polio drive has been launched across Sindh, including Karachi, today, with a target to vaccinate nine million children.

The anti-polio campaign volunteers would go door-to-door to vaccinate children, the spokesperson said, adding that special care would be taken in light of the coronavirus-related SOPs.

Police and other law enforcement agencies were also called in to protect the volunteers, they added.

Coronavirus-related SOPs would be strictly enforced during the campaign, the coordinator said, adding that the field staff were provided with surgical masks, hand sanitisers, thermal guns, and other protective equipment (PPEs).

The virus is spreading to major cities due to a prolonged gap in the anti-polio campaign when it was suspended earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The campaign's target was to vaccinate over 20 million children against polio, they added, noting that a monthly anti-polio drive would help stop the spread of the virus.