As govt teams come knocking, schools face dilemma of permitting polio vaccinations

Published: February 2, 2012

Private schools were asked to cooperate with the government teams administering polio vaccinations to students under the age of five years or go to jail. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: A group of small children lined up in a colourful room of a private school on Wednesday morning and waited for a burqa-clad woman to force red polio drops down their throats. This was part of the three-day anti-polio campaign, which ended on a bitter note as the administrative staff of private schools around the city complained about being harassed and subjected to aggressive behaviour.

Private schools were asked to cooperate with the government teams administering polio vaccinations to students under the age of five years or go to jail. “We were harassed by the polio teams and were forced to let them administer drops to our students,” said the principal of AMI School’s nursery branch, Nasira Faiz. “We are not the parents of these students. We cannot give permission to these teams to administer polio drops.”

In Jamshed town, anti-polio teams were accompanied by police officers who were always a step ahead and ready to pick up faculty members. On Monday, the manager of the AMI school, Shakeelur Razzak, was picked up from the school and taken to the Ferozabad police station, just because the school did not attend a meeting on the polio campaign organised by the town commissioner.

“Our schools are located in safe areas. How can people barge in with guns? There was no condition in the notice that if we don’t attend, we would be arrested,” said Rabea Minai, a teacher. “We are against this aggressive attitude.”

Razzak was released after the school said that they would apologise to the town administration for ‘causing inconvenience’ to the polio teams. They had to ensure that the school would cooperate with the anti-polio teams. On Tuesday, the school sent out circulars to the parents asking them for permission to have their children vaccinated at school. Sarwat Naseem, a parent, said that her children were vaccinated. She felt that this approach was wrong.

While talking to The Express Tribune, the deputy commissioner for the East, Qazi Jan Muhammad, said that he wanted to make sure that every child in his district was vaccinated. “Every deputy commissioner is responsible for the children in his area,” he said. “If any child has polio in my area then it will become my responsibility.”

He added that this year, the health department had indicated refusal areas ie, those areas or schools where anti-polio teams were not allowed to vaccinate children in the past. “There were 172 schools in the east zone which were refusal areas,” he said. “This time we took strict action against them. We arrested some staff members but released them after they swore to cooperate with us.”

According to the deputy commissioner, under section 186 of the Pakistan Penal Code, they have the right to take the action and arrest those who disobeyed government orders.

“Private schools say that they can’t let the children get vaccinated without the parents’ consent,” he said. “We don’t need the permission. It is the basic human right of every child under the age of five to get vaccinated.”

The chairman of the All Private Schools Management Association, Khalid Shah, said that for the first time, around 50 to 55 private schools had turned into polio centres during the campaign. He added that earlier, the health department was not successful in vaccinating all the children as most of them were at school but this time the schools had worked with them.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Huma
    Feb 3, 2012 - 2:12AM

    Instead of forcing and harassing and threatening everyone, and arresting teachers…
    1. the polio team should inform the concerned schools 10 days in advance that they will be coming.
    It is agreed that it is the right of every child to be given those drops but it is not necessary to administer them to one who has already been vaccinated.
    2. the schools should then inform the parents of their students.
    3. the parents should get certificates from their children’s pediatricians certifying that their children have in fact been vaccinated.
    4. If a certificate is not provided, the child should be vaccinated.
    That, i believe, is the civilized way to go about matters. Not in this ghunda-gardi way, and def not to the detriment of the children’s health!
    I hope that someone who is authorized to direct this matter reads this and sense prevails.

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  • Aubrey
    Feb 4, 2012 - 12:50AM

    Another reason to homeschool…

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  • Roy Stewart
    Feb 4, 2012 - 1:12AM

    @ Huma There is no civilised way to force vaccinations on people. Compulsory vaccination is fascism. Besides, the polio vaccine causes polio, and contains the cancer virus. it is a depopulation weapon and administering it is attempted murder.

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  • Tim Kelly
    Feb 4, 2012 - 1:22AM

    Huma, Your comments are supportive of forced vaccination, you are obviously unaware that no vaccine has ever been scientifically proven, only bad science and manipulation of statistics. Vaccines are ALL poison — FACT….75% of aboriginal children were wiped out by Polio vaccine…This is a KILL AGENDA…depopulation. Every Soul MUST have choice…it is the right of every child and parent to decide for themselves to be Healthy and Vaccine free…NOT the right to be poisoned…….”4. If a certificate is not provided, the child should be vaccinated” NO THEY SHOULD NOT !! period…clean water and adequate nutrition are the only required provisors of good health for kids…§

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  • Doc N.
    Feb 4, 2012 - 3:15AM

    I agree wholeheartedly with Aubrey, Roy and Tim. I’d also like to add one more thing to the discussion. As a military medic who has been deployed to the Afghan/Paki border region in the very recent past, I can tell you from first hand experience that there are no pediatricians throughout at least 80% of the region and those that DO exist are terribly underqualified, underfunded and uninformed about most of “modern western medicine”. That goes for the good points of emergency trauma care, advanced anatomy/physiology, physiological homeostasis in addition to the dangers of compulsory vaccination and many other threats that are now widely known to be fact.

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