The second national polio immunization drive in Punjab, which commenced on October 2, has concluded on a highly successful note. Polio teams tirelessly went door-to-door during this campaign, with a mission to vaccinate every eligible child, thereby inching closer to eradicating the polio virus from its last remaining strongholds.
This vital initiative, known as the National Polio Immunisation Days (NIDs), has been actively underway in Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Faisalabad. In these three mega districts, the campaign spanned seven days, given the larger population of children aged five or younger. In contrast, the remaining 33 districts successfully completed their campaign on Friday, operating within a five-day timeframe.
Exceeding set targets, the dedicated polio teams have vaccinated a remarkable 22.97 million children as of Saturday, a number that also includes guest children and those at transit points. Among these districts, Lahore has demonstrated exceptional progress, leading the list with 2.1 million vaccinated children. Faisalabad and Rawalpindi followed suit, with 1.5 million and 1 million children, respectively, receiving crucial polio drops.
On the concluding day of the campaign, Mr. Khizer Afzaal, the head of the polio program in Punjab and the Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator, who also holds the position of Additional Secretary at the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, reviewed the campaign’s data. He emphasized the importance of focusing on areas with low coverage and instructed health officials to closely monitor the campaign’s progress in high-risk and priority population areas.
Mr. Afzaal underscored the need to revisit households marked as ‘zero’ and ensure that every child, including guests, is vaccinated, thereby preventing the spread of the polio virus and protecting all children against this threat.
Praising the dedication and commitment of polio workers, Mr. Khizer emphasized their role in reaching even the most challenging and remote areas. He reiterated the significance of administering multiple doses of polio drops to achieve population immunity and halt the circulation of the virus in infected zones.
Mr. Khizer appealed to parents to warmly welcome polio teams when they visit their homes, as community support plays a crucial role in the success of such campaigns.
It is noteworthy that Punjab has remained polio-free for nearly three years, marking a significant achievement for the program. However, the risk of virus importation remains, as indicated by genomic sampling of the virus in Lahore and Rawalpindi environmental samples.