ISLAMABAD, 15 December 2019

– Over the coming days, over 260,000 frontline polio workers will go door-to-door to ensure approximately 39.5 million children under the age of five receive the polio vaccine. The campaign was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday during which he symbolically vaccinated the first child of the campaign.

During the event Imran Khan said, “It is my humble request to all mothers that if you have not been reached by our polio team then you should set out to find polio workers and make sure your kids get the polio drops. Firstly, it is very important for your kids. Secondly, it is very important for our nation. Our polio workers have sacrifices greatly in the past and they are heroes of our country.”

"The vaccine is completely safe, and it is essential to immunize our children to keep them protected against polio. For the complete eradication of polio, it is of utmost importance that all children up to the age of five are administered with the polio drops. Parents should fulfil their responsibility in this regard,” said Dr. Zafar Mirza, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

Pakistan remains one of the last two countries in the world, alongside Afghanistan, where poliovirus continues to circulate actively. There is a strong national and international commitment to eradicate polio. It is a collective responsibility to ensure all children are protected and vaccination is the only and best protection against the poliovirus.

“All arrangements have been completed so that all children can be immunized across the country and stakeholders have been fully engaged to ensure that the campaign is successful. It is possible for Pakistan to eradicate polio with the support of the community; I urge all parents and caregivers to ensure their children are vaccinated,” said Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, Coordinator National Emergency Operations Centre.

Communities play an essential role to ensure that the national campaign reaches every single child under the age of five. Parents and caregivers are urged to cooperate with the vaccinators who administer the polio vaccine by opening their doors to them. If any children have not received the vaccine between 16 to 20 December, they can still request to receive it.

The Pakistan Polio Eradication Initiative has initiated “Sehat Tahhafuz Helpline” to assist the reporting of missed children during the national immunization campaign. The parents and caregivers are encouraged to contact “Sehat Tahhafuz Helpline at 1166 and register their concerns regarding the missed children.

 ---------- ------------

Note to Editors:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five. It invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio free.