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Over 9.5mln children to receive polio vaccination

AT-Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health, in joint venture with the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is to launch the second spring round of National Immunization Days (NIDs) for polio eradication in 2017 today, the ministry said in a statement.

More than 9.5 million children under the age of five will be vaccinated against polio and more than 5.7 million children between the ages of 2 and 5 will receive Albendazole tablets during the campaign that runs until 19 May.

Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz emphasized over the importance of this campaign because the polio high-transmission season has started. “We must reach all children under five years of age with vaccines, regardless of where they live,” he said.

“It is critical that the safety of our committed volunteers and frontline health workers is ensured so they can successfully carry out their important duties in delivering health services to every Afghan household to protect all children from this paralyzing disease,” he added.

The minister reiterated the importance of polio vaccine for ensuring all children are protected from the crippling effects of polio.

Most countries are now free from polio as a result of immunization and Afghanistan is one of only three countries where polio still exists. Fortunately, polio can be eliminated completely like smallpox. Afghanistan has made significant progress in the effort to stop polio and is accelerating efforts to ensure polio is finished for good.

This national campaign will be carried out by 67,000 polio workers who will go from house to house in their communities to vaccinate children.

On coming Friday, polio teams will revisit households where children were missed the first time the vaccinators visited to ensure that all children are vaccinated and protected.

Three polio cases have been reported in 2017, from Helmand, Kandahar and Kunduz provinces. In 2016, 13 polio cases were reported, down from 20 in 2015. Most of Afghanistan remains polio-free, but wild poliovirus continues to circulate in localized geographical areas in the eastern, southern and south-eastern parts of the country.

Polio vaccine is safe and it does not have any side effects even for sleeping, sick and newborn children. Polio vaccines have been endorsed by religious scholars, including Ulema.

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