Islamabad – March 25, 2024 – A crucial polio campaign to immunize more than 8.8 million children under the age of five against the paralyzing poliovirus has begun in 26 districts of the country from today.

This polio outbreak response campaign is being held in 11 districts of Balochistan, seven districts of Sindh, five districts of Punjab, and selected UCs of Faisalabad, Kasur and Khairpur after the detection of polio cases in Dera Bugti and Chaman and the detection of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in sewage samples of several districts of these provinces.

Urging parents to vaccinate their children, Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said, “Protecting children from incurable polio is a top priority for the government, which is why in response to virus detections, we are deploying polio teams during Ramadan to vaccinate children and keep their immunity against polio high.”

He added: “Poliovirus can leave your child paralyzed for life and it is critical for children to have the immunity to fight off infection. I urge all parents in these districts where the virus has been found to open your door to vaccinators and ensure that your children receive two drops of this essential vaccine.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator for the National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication, said that WPV1 has been detected in 71 environmental samples so far this year, mostly in Balochistan and Sindh, and has paralyzed two children in Balochistan.

“This vaccination campaign is specifically being held in districts where there have been virus detections ahead of the high travel season of Eid to prevent any further spread of the virus as people travel for the holidays,” he said, adding that the Polio Programme has a rapid response system in place and has already conducted two nationwide campaigns in January and February, while following this campaign, another vaccination drive is planned at the end of April.

Note for Editor: 

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. 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 immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free, except for the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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