PESHAWAR: For the first time in Peshawar, children up to the age of 10 years will be administered anti-polio drops during the vaccination campaign which will kick off on 22 April.

Deputy Commissioner Imran Sheikh said while addressing a press conference in Peshawar on Wednesday that normally children up to the age of five years are administered polio vaccine in the vaccination campaigns, but this time, children up to the age of 10 years will be vaccinated. The deputy commissioner said poliovirus was found in the sewerage samples of Landay Sarak, Larama, Shaheen Muslim Town areas of the provincial capital. However, he said, 90 percent reduction has been witnessed in the presence of poliovirus and now the target of polio-free Peshawar is well within grasp.

Imran Sheikh said the span of the polio vaccination has been increased to children up to 10 years of age as the virus still exists in the city’s atmosphere. He said 1.6 children will get polio drops during the campaign. He said that the sewage samples in Peshawar are showing presence of poliovirus since 2017 and there is continuous threat of the crippling disease to children.

The deputy commissioner said a similar situation was witnessed in Islamabad recently where poliovirus was found in the atmosphere. He said the administration of the federal capital increased the target age of children to be vaccinated to 10 years and this experiment paid off. He said the Peshawar administration has decided to replicate the same experiment. He urged the parents to fully cooperate with the vaccination teams to ensure the dream of polio-free Pakistan.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio is categorised is endemic viral infection. Vaccination efforts in these countries are often hampered due to refusal of parents or threats from militants. The National Emergency Operation Centre has already issued warning of presence of poliovirus in eight cities including Peshawar, Lahore, Bannu, Rawalpindi, Qila Abdullah, Pishin, Quetta and Karachi.

Sixth polio cases have been reported in Pakistan this year. Four of these cases have surfaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The KP government recently announced to block the identity cards of the parents who refused to administer polio vaccination to their children.

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