Islamabad, 7 May 2018 – Starting today the country will embark on a polio vaccination campaign that aims to reach 23.8 million children aged 5 years. Some 161,000 frontline workers will be going “door-to-door” over the next five days to reach every child with two drops of the safe and effective vaccine, according to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) for Polio Eradication.

“Meticulous planning has been put into this campaign -- like all others -- to ensure that Pakistan finally rids its borders of this crippling disease and keep its children safe. The oral polio vaccine will be delivered door-to-door to these millions of children,” said Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication. “Implementing successful immunization campaigns have helped Pakistan lower the number of cases to the lowest level ever. Success will depend on every campaign organizer and worker to parents and caregivers who must ensure every child under five receives the two drops of the vaccine.”

Since 2014 there has been an overall 97% reduction in polio cases in Pakistan: from 306 cases in 2014 to 8 in 2017. This year one polio case has been reported. The national polio eradication programme continues to address any remaining gaps to achieve high population immunity in core poliovirus reservoirs including Karachi, Quetta Block and Peshawar, while keeping children safe from polio throughout the country.

With the campaign, underway today, the NEOC assures the nation the polio vaccine is safe, efficacious, and approved by the Government’s drug regulatory authorities.

“The oral polio vaccine is safe and effective and has been used to eradicate polio in almost every country in the world,” said Senator Farooq. “The Government of Pakistan drug regulatory authorities have approved the vaccine, which is stringently prepared according to international specifications.”

NEOC Coordinator Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar emphasized the need for all children to be immunized during every round of immunization campaign days.

“Multiple doses of polio vaccine are required for a child to be fully protected – sometimes more than ten. Each additional dose further strengthens a child's immunity level against polio. Parents who do not ensure vaccination of their children are risking health and lives of their own children as well as others around them,” said Dr. Safdar. “As long as the virus is being detected anywhere in the country, no child is safe from being infected. Any child with low immunity will be where the virus will find refuge. We need to ensure all our children are vaccinated with two drops, every time the vaccine is offered. Parents and caregivers must also make their children fully vaccinated for all antigens.”

Senator Farooq said, “For the sake of the current and future generations of Pakistani children, let’s not allow this virus to wriggle off the hook. Let us instead work to achieve our collective goal of a polio-free Pakistan. I call on communities and families to continue to open their doors to Sehat Muhafiz teams to ensure that every child gets the two drops of the vaccine. This is the only way we can collectively ensure that we rid polio from our land. I, too, am a Sehat Muhafiz.”