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LAHORE: Polio teams scrambled house to house to vaccinate every unavailable child on the last day of the second national polio immunisation drive in Punjab which was launched on October 2 to hammer polio virus in its last remaining holdouts.

The National polio Immunisation Days called the by NIDs is under way in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad, while in rest of the 33 districts, the campaign was wrapped up on Friday.

In the three mega districts, the campaign lasts seven days due to the higher number of children of five years of age or less. While in rest of the district’s the campaign took five days.

Exceeding targets, till Saturday, polio teams had vaccinated 22.97 million children, including guests and children on transit points. At the end of the campaign the data will be reviewed carefully, and double entries would be removed, which will give an accurate figure of the children vaccinated in the campaign.

Lahore topped the list of most vaccinated children with 2.1 million vaccinations. The district was followed by Faisalabad and Rawalpindi with 1.5 million and 1 million children receiving polio drops, respectively.

On the last day of campaign, head of the polio programme in Punjab and Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator, Additional Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, Khizer Afzaal reviewed data of the campaign and directed health officials to focus on areas having low coverage.

He instructed the officials to monitor the campaign in high-risk and priority population areas. In a statement issued in Sunday, he directed polio teams to revisit locked, as well as, those houses marked as ‘zero’.

He highlighted the need to vaccinate every missed child including guests so that polio virus does not spread to any area and all children are protected against virus”.

Khizer praised the contribution of polio workers, saying the program’s health workers were on the forefront continue to reach children in some of the hardest to reach areas with the singular goal to reach every last child.

He reiterated that multiple doses of polio drops offered the best protection against polio virus and every single child needed to be vaccinated in order achieve population immunity and prevent virus circulation if we were to eradicate polio from infected zones.

The EOC head appealed to the parents to welcome polio teams whenever they came to knock at their doorsteps.

Punjab is free of polio cases for nearly three years since October 2020, which is an achievement of the programme.

However, as evident from the genomic sampling of virus in Lahore and Rawalpindi environmental samples, Punjab is at the risk of virus importation.

2023 is the year that Pakistan aims to interrupt transmission of poliovirus from the country and the polio program is working steadily towards that goal, Khizer pledged.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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