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ISLAMABAD: The government kicked off an immunisation campaign against Covid-19 for children aged between five and 11 years on Monday. Under the drive, eight million children will be vaccinated.

This was stated by the federal Minister for National Health Services and Regulations while addressing a joint ceremony with the US government representatives during a visit to a vaccination centre in the federal capital to launch a nationwide campaign to vaccinate children with the first batch of eight million Pfizer Covid-19 paediatric vaccine doses donated by the United States.

While inaugurating the vaccination campaign, federal Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel said that it will continue till September 24 in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Sindh, and Punjab. During the vaccination drive, at least eight million children will be vaccinated.

The minister urged teachers and parents to ensure that all children falling in the age bracket of five to 11 years are vaccinated. He said Pakistan effectively handled the Covid-19 crisis but the pandemic is far from over. The minister stressed the need to adopt preventive measures to control the pandemic. He expressed his gratitude to the USAID for supporting Pakistan in this regard.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has committed to donating over 78 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to the people of Pakistan, and thus far more than 70 million of these doses have arrived in-country. The United States is the largest donor of the Covid-19 vaccines to Pakistan.

The US government, through the USAID, is supporting the Government of Pakistan’s Covid-19 paediatric vaccination campaign for five- to 11-year-old children. US Ambassador Donald Blome joined the Federal Health Minister, Abdul Qadir Patel, to kick off the life-saving campaign. The campaign is taking place in the capital and selected districts of Sindh and Punjab. Executive Director of NIH Major General Dr Aamer Ikram, Director of General Health Services Dr Shabana Salem, and other senior Pakistani government officials also attended the event.

Addressing health officials at the inauguration campaign, Ambassador Blome said, “Today, we celebrate the next step in protecting all Pakistanis against this devastating disease by launching the paediatric vaccination campaign. Our recent collaboration to protect the children of Pakistan demonstrates the importance of our longstanding partnership to work together and overcome the global challenge.”

The Federal Health Minister, Patel, praised the commitment of both countries to combat Covid-19 in Pakistan and said, “Protecting our communities from Covid-19 is a shared priority of both of our governments, and these vaccines will keep millions of children safe from the most devastating impacts of the pandemic.” He expressed gratitude for the US government’s support to improve health services in Pakistan and noted that it reflects the strong bilateral relations between the two countries.

In addition to the vaccines, the US government has also provided over $80 million in direct and in-kind support to assist the Pakistani people in the fight against Covid-19. This support has included more than 1.2 million N95 masks, 96,000 surgical masks, 52,000 protective goggles, one million Covid-19 rapid diagnostic tests, 1,200 pulse oximeters, and 200 ventilators for 64 Pakistani hospitals – all of which has helped save lives and protect people across Pakistan. The US government also trained over 50,000 health workers, including 30,000 women, across Pakistan on home-based care for Covid-19 patients and established a national network of disease surveillance and response units and teams – providing an infrastructure to combat the current pandemic and building resiliency for the future. In July, the United States also provided four mobile testing labs to Pakistan’s National Institute of Health to strengthen Pakistan’s ability to diagnose diseases in remote, underserved areas.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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