As many as 154 households in the Gujranwala district refused to allow administration of polio vaccine to their children during the recent two-day district government’s anti-police drive on June 1 and June 2.
This was revealed in the summary report of the drive that was submitted to the assistant commissioner on June 2.
After some workers were dismissed by the executive district officer last year for slippages in the campaign, workers of the district government and the Revenue Department collaborated for this year’s campaign, held from June 1 to June 2.
The report said that 154 families did not allow the immunisation workers to vaccinate their children during the campaign, saying they believed it was against Pakistan’s children.
After receiving the report, Assistant Commissioner Syed Salahuddin formed special teams to visit these homes and persuade the parents to allow the workers to immunise their children.
The assistant commissioner also visited some of the homes himself to talk to the parents.
Later, talking to The Express Tribune, he said they were successful in convincing 60 families, while the workers have been directed to continue visiting the rest of the homes, until their children were vaccinated.
He said there was a need to create awareness among the people. He said the refusal to allow vaccination was shocking and that he will take up the issue with the chief minister. He said the district government planned to sit down with local clerics to discuss the issue.
Hafiz Shafiq, a local cleric, said he believed that the polio immunisation drops were un-Islamic. He said he had three sons, Muavia, 4; Umer, 2; and six-months-old Nasr. He said none of them had been given polio drops.
He said he believed that the polio campaign was an American conspiracy.
Rashida Bibi, mother of two, said she had stopped giving her sons polio drops because they caused pain in their legs. “For two consecutive administrations, my sons complained of pain in their legs.”
She said with her husband’s consent, she had decided to stop giving her children polio drops.
WHO Punjab team leader Dr Deborah Bettels had earlier told The Express Tribune that the vaccine was guaranteed to be safe and effective and had no side effects. She had said that doubting the efficacy of the vaccine could have grave repercussions.
Farzana Bibi, a mother of three, said if the vaccine was really harmless, the chief minister should administer the drops to the children in his family on live television.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2012.