The current week marks the start of a two-stage polio immunisation mission to vaccinate over 21 million kids in Punjab and Sindh, where medical care specialists have advised guardians to get their youngsters immunised. Due to government employees’ prior involvement in the census, the vaccination programme is divided into two phases.
From March 13 to March 17, more than 17.41 million children under the age of five in 13 Punjabi districts, 16 Sindhi districts, and Islamabad will receive vaccinations as part of the first phase. During the second week of Ramadan, the second phase will begin. Under this stage, more than 4.12 million youngsters in 12 areas of Balochistan and 26 locales in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be immunised.
Pakistan is one of only two nations worldwide where polio is still widespread; Afghanistan comes in second. Pakistan has reported 20 cases in the month of April 2022. And despite the fact that the authorities in Pakistan have been taking a lot of steps to ensure that all children are vaccinated—their door-to-door campaigns have been quite beneficial—they still have a lot of work to do to address the widespread issue of vaccine hesitancy.
Vaccination-driven conspiracy theories frequently result in dangerous outcomes. In various regions of the nation, numerous healthcare workers and police officers who were protecting the teams have been killed. Additionally, the majority of people refuse to let vaccination teams into their homes. Children ultimately bear the cost of this ignorance, so none of this can be ignored. Children are denied a healthy childhood due to the paralysis caused by the deadly and highly contagious virus.
A one-of-a-kind and original campaign to increase public awareness was launched a few weeks ago by authorities. Trucks travelling between Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) were decorated with eye-catching artwork to encourage people to get their kids immunised. We have seen that the government can and does have the potential to carry out large-scale vaccination drives, despite their rigid belief in conspiracies and lack of scientific knowledge.
The government carried out commendable vaccination drives in an effort to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading throughout the nation. It can make plans in the same vein to get rid of polio in the country. Individuals likewise need to move forward and organise with the public authority. Students should be educated about the significance of getting vaccinated through campaigns that should be run by educational institutions.
To get people to get their kids vaccinated, health centres in every district should hold education seminars. Strong determination is required to defeat polio. Salute the brave men and women who, despite threats and social stigma, walk from house to house to administer polio vaccine drops. In order to finally eradicate polio in Pakistan, large-scale campaigns with sufficient security measures for the teams are required.