PESHAWAR: Due to continuous virus circulation in the environment and reporting of two new polio cases from Bannu and Bajaur, the Provincial Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has decided to launch case response in 21 districts of the province along with exclusive Inactivated Polio Vaccination (IPV) campaign in the provincial capital from February 18.
This was decided at a high-level meeting held here with Coordinator EOC Capt (r) Kamran Afridi in the chair. Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI) Director Dr Akram Shah, Technical Focal Person Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah and technical heads of World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and National Stop Transmission of Polio (N-Stop) were also present on the occasion.
The meeting decided to start a special IPV campaign in the provincial capital from February 18, next wherein children from four months up to five years of age will be vaccinated with injectable polio vaccine while OPV will be administered to children from zero to five years.
The case response campaign will be carried out in Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi, Malakand, Kohat, Karak, Hangu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Lower Dir, Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, Orakzai, South Waziristan and North Waziristan.
The total target of oral polio vaccine stands at 4.745 million children under the age of five in for which 16532 teams have been constituted for OPV campaign out of which 14377 were mobile teams, 1230 fixed, 802 Transit and 123 roaming teams whereas 3832 area supervisors will ensure quality campaign.
Likewise, 691575 children will receive injectable polio vaccine in the eight days campaign in Peshawar where over 1082 trained teams will be vaccinating children at outreach sites.
Speaking on the occasion, Capt (R) Kamran Afridi said that two drops of oral polio vaccine were the only remedy for polio eradication as the entire world including Muslim countries have wiped out polio from their regions for good through OPV.
He requested all parents to cooperate with the teams in vaccination of their children to help protect them from lifelong disability and urged media to sensitise the community on the significance of OPV and IPV vaccination for the health of their children.
He said that IPV was an additional boost that builds blood immunity whereas OPV strengthens both gut and blood immunity and together they provide complete safety against the crippling disease of polio which is not curable and can even kill children when their immunity is compromised.
EPI Director Dr Akram Shah said that IPV is one of the safest vaccines in use and no serious systemic adverse reactions have been shown to follow vaccination with IPV, whether used alone or in combination with other vaccines.
He said that minor local reactions, such as redness and tenderness, may occur following IPV and can be treated with paracetamol adding that IPV can be safely administered to sick children or children with immune deficiencies.
“It is perfectly safe to vaccinate children with IPV multiple times, and each additional dose of polio vaccine will further strengthen a child’s immunity level against polio,” he added.
It merits mentioning here that four polio cases have been reported from the country in 2019 so far, out of which one each from Bajaur, Bannu, Hangue and Lahore has been recorded.