AT-Kabul: Around 9.9 million children under the age of 5 will be vaccinated this week during the fourth round of polio National Immunization Days of this year. Around 5.9 million children aged 2-5 years will also be given Albendazole deworming tablets. Supported by WHO and UNICEF, the campaign will run from September 25 to 29 in all 34 provinces.
According to a statement issued by Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) the vaccination campaign was officially has been launched at a ceremony held at the Shpageeza cricket league tournament in Kabul. Afghan cricket players inaugurated the National Immunization Days by administering oral polio vaccine (OPV) to children and reaffirming their support to the fight against polio.
The Minister of Public Health Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, in his video message broadcasted during the final match of cricket, highlighted the role of religious scholars, community leaders, teachers and youth so important in polio eradication, calling on all of them to cooperate with the vaccinators who are delivering vaccination services to doors of households in every corner of Afghanistan in order to protect their children from this lifetime paralyzing disease.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria remain the only three polio-endemic countries in the world. The circulation of the wild poliovirus has been stopped in most parts of Afghanistan and it now localized in small insecure areas of the country. In 2017, six polio cases have been reported: two from Kandahar, two from Helmand, one case from Kunduz and the most recent case from Zabul.
The polio vaccine is safe and it does not have any side effects even for sleeping, sick or newborn children. Islamic scholars in Afghanistan and internationally support polio vaccination and have issued statements affirming that vaccines are halal and that all caregivers must ensure their children are vaccinated and protected.