ISLAMABAD    -   The United States and Pa­kistan on Monday part­nered to launch paediat­ric vaccination campaign.

The US government representatives and Pakistani health offi­cials visited a vaccina­tion centre in Islamabad to launch a nationwide campaign to vaccinate children with the first batch of 8 million Pfiz­er COVID-19 paediatric vaccine doses donated by the United States. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has committed to donate more than 78 million COVID-19 vac­cine doses to the people of Pakistan and thus far more than 70 million of these doses have arrived in country. The United States is the largest do­nor of COVID-19 vac­cines to Pakistan, said a US embassy statement.

The US government, through USAID, is sup­porting the government of Pakistan’s COVID-19 paediatric vaccina­tion campaign for 5 to 11-year-old children. 

US Ambassador Don­ald Blome joined the Fed­eral Health Minister Ab­dul Qadir Pate, to kick off the life-saving campaign at the Mass Vaccination Centre in Islamabad. 

The campaign is tak­ing place in the capital and selected districts of Sindh and Punjab prov­inces. Executive Director of NIH Maj Gen Dr Aamer Ikram, Director of Gen­eral Health Services Dr Shabana Salem, and oth­er senior Pakistan gov­ernment officials also at­tended the event.

Addressing health of­ficials on the occasion, Ambassador Blome re­marked: “Today, we cel­ebrate the next step in protecting all Pakistanis against this devastating disease by launching the paediatric vaccination campaign. Our recent collaboration to protect the children of Pakistan demonstrates the impor­tance of our longstand­ing partnership to work together and overcome the global challenge.”

Federal Health Min­ister Abdul Qadir Patel praised the commitment of both countries to com­bat COVID-19 in Pakistan and said, “Protecting our communities from COV­ID-19 is a shared priori­ty of both of our govern­ments, and these vaccines will keep millions of chil­dren safe from the most devastating impacts of the pandemic.” 

He expressed grati­tude for the US govern­ment’s support to im­prove health services in Pakistan and noted that it reflects the strong bi­lateral relations between the two countries.

In addition to the vac­cines, the US government has also provided over $80 million in direct and in-kind support to assist the Pakistani people in fight against COVID-19. 

This support has in­cluded more than 1.2 mil­lion N95 masks, 96,000 surgical masks, 52,000 protective goggles, one million COVID-19 rap­id diagnostic tests, 1,200 pulse oximeters, and 200 ventilators for 64 Paki­stani hospitals – all of which has helped save lives and protect people across Pakistan. 

The US government also trained over 50,000 health workers, in­cluding 30,000 wom­en, across Pakistan on home-based care for COVID-19 patients and established a national network of disease sur­veillance and response units and teams – pro­viding an infrastructure to combat the current pandemic and building resiliency for the future. 

In July, the Unit­ed States also provid­ed four mobile testing labs to Pakistan’s Na­tional Institute of Health to strengthen Pakistan’s ability to diagnose dis­eases in remote, under­served areas.