Schools could be closed for refusing polio teams

Published: October 23, 2016

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to inoculate every child, the capital administration has threatened private schools with punitive action, including closure, unless they allow vaccination teams to administer polio drops to students.

They have argued that schools do not need to seek prior permission from parents of children under the age of five prior to vaccinating them.

Coordinated Efforts: Depts working in tandem to eradicate polio  

As a sub-national anti-polio drive gets underway in the city from tomorrow (Monday October 24), the capital’s administration has decided to target children at school.

Although refusal rates have fallen, some elite private schools continue to resist allowing vaccination teams to enter their premises.

The schools also argue that they cannot allow students to be vaccinated without getting consent from their parents in advance, officials say.

To deal with the situation, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has written letters to all public and private schools in the capital where children under the age of five are enrolled, stating that there was no need to seek consent of the parents since vaccination is mandatory. In this scenario, the CDA has impressed upon schools that refusal is not an option.

“The refusing schools will be dealt strictly through concerned assistant commissioners and officials of the Pakistan Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) that may lead to punitive action or closure of school,” a letter issued by the CDA reads.

Parents who refuse polio vaccine to be photographed

Although the current nationwide refusal rate of 0.01 per cent is negligible, it becomes problematic when vaccination is refused by children living in clusters.

While the city administrations has issued such advisories before [polio] campaigns, this time they are asking for stern action and no permission from parents,” said CDA Health Services Director Dr Hasan Orooj.

He explained that the CDA’s extreme measures stemmed from the fact that schools delay the campaigns on the pretext of parental permission.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2016.

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