LAHORE    -   Punjab Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Coordinator Syedah Ramallah Ali has instructed the affected districts to finalize plan for vaccination of children against polio in areas left out due to floods.  Addressing a virtual meeting with the health management teams of flood-affected districts on Friday, she said: “Districts need to make proper assessments of flooded areas through high-level officials including DDHOs and vaccinate all children against polio by September 26.” Districts including Mianwali, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and all polio eradication partners participated in the meeting. She added: “The plans need to be finalised immediately and shared with the EOC. Vaccination of all children is mandatory as the risk of children falling prey to virus has increased manifold due to floods. Children who have missed their vaccination cannot be kept without the vaccine for a long time. Floods may cause spread of diseases including polio virus. So children, especially in the missed zones, are more at risk.” Stressing upon the importance of essential immunization, she urged all districts to prioritize routine immunization of children and record all those children who had missed first dose of vaccination.  The EOC coordinator said: “Districts need to make sure that all vaccines reach the affected areas as early as possible. The head of the polio programme pledged to take care of health needs of the affected populations. Their needs will be fulfilled through multiple health camps in affected UCs.” The districts informed the coordinator that water had receded in most of the areas and campaign would be held in the given deadline. Districts assured the coordinator that in most of the areas where water level was still high, proper assessments would be done so that children could be reached with polio vaccine through alternate routes. The coordinator was informed that the districts, with the support of government, had set up mobile health units, which would be further strengthened with the EOC support. The districts updated the coordinator that medicines to treat scabies, diarrhea, respiratory infections, malaria and typhoid were required urgently. Punjab’s third National Immunization Days (NIDs) commenced on August 22. In Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad, the campaign continued for seven days. In the rest of the province, the NIDs lasted five days.

Monsoon rains coupled with floods posed serious challenges in achieving full vaccination of children in the campaign.