ISLAMABAD          -        National Emergency and Operations Center (NEOC) on Thursday said that more than 700,000 children were vaccinated against polio in select districts of Pakistan.

A statement released said that a total of 722,500 children have been vaccinated against polio after a vaccination drive was carried from 20-28 July in select districts across Pakistan.  It said this was the first polio vaccination campaign launched after a four-month hiatus was put in place following the first signs of COVID-19 transmission in the country. 

For this small-scale campaign, frontline workers carried out door-to-door vaccination of children under the age of 5 years in South Waziristan and parts of Karachi, Quetta, Faisalabad and Attock.  The campaign was launched in these particular districts to help build immunity of children against the virus and to target continuous poliovirus circulation. 

Frontline workers also helped to raise awareness on COVID-19 preventive measures, distribute soaps and masks to the community, and encourage mothers and children to obtain other essential vaccinations and antenatal care services. 

To ensure the protection of frontline workers and children in the COVID-19 context, the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme trained frontline workers and developed procedures on COVID-19 preventative measures for them to follow, especially for the safe handling of children and for social distancing.  Vaccinators were also provided with face masks, hand sanitizers and thermometers. 

“The programme worked very hard to devise operational modalities to resume campaigns while keeping in mind the safety of our communities and frontline workers. We also carried out intense trainings for our frontline workers on maintaining a safe distance, using a mask and sanitizing their hands while carrying out their duties,” said Dr. Rana Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre, Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme.  

Dr. Rana Safdar also shared that he was, “very impressed with the efforts of noble frontline workers to maintain the new operational modalities while carrying out the vaccination of vulnerable children. I hope that parents continue to cooperate with us and prioritise their children’s vaccination against polio in the upcoming campaigns.”

The Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme has planned larger case response campaigns in select parts of the country in August and September of this year, followed by back-to-back national vaccination campaigns across the country in October, November and December.  Children will continue to receive routine immunisation services at fixed health centres across the country as well.