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Over 1.4 M children to benefit from Polio vaccination

February 26, 2016 By Annans Sesay

1,493,785 children from 0-59 months are to benefit from Polio vaccination countrywide. The Immunization starts from Friday, 26 February to Monday, 29 February, 2016.

Addressing Pressmen during a press briefing organised by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation National Child Health/EPI Programme at the ministry’s conference hall in Freetown, Deputy Programme Manager, Dr. Mariama Murray told journalists that this is the first round of the Polio campaign planned for 2016 as part of the Child Health/Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) revitalization plans.

Dr. Murray reiterated that the goal of the campaign was the reduction of morbidity and mortality of various life-saving interventions.

The objective, she said, was to achieve Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and Birth Registration coverage of at least ninety-five percent of children 0-59 months old who have received the polio vaccine, adding that defaulters – children under 2 years – who missed the vaccination during the Ebola outbreak would also benefit.

She disclosed that about seventy-two percent of susceptible persons infected with polio have no symptoms, while infected persons without symptoms can still spread the virus and cause others to develop polio.

Dr. Murray maintained that polio infection is mostly unseen because only 0.5 percent to one percent of children infected with polio develop paralysis. The safest way to prevent re-introduction of wild polio virus transmission, Dr. Murray said, was to ensure high level of population immunity through campaigns.

She underscored the importance of vaccinating EPI defaulters because the Ebola virus disease outbreak resulted in decreased vaccination coverage for children less than 24 months.

Other highlights of the briefing included contributions from representative from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, co-sponsors of the campaign.

Chaired by Senior Information Officer, Ministry of Information and Communications, Mr. Dan Parkinson, the campaign is targeting beneficiaries across the country.

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