Over 21,000 children missed polio vaccine in recent campaign

Samples taken from drainage pumping stations tested positive May, June

Z Ali July 10, 2024
A vaccinator administers polio vaccine to a child in a Karachi neighbourhood during the anti-polio drive, which kicked off on Monday. PHOTO: EXPRESS


The ongoing polio virus detection in multiple sewerage pumping stations in Hyderabad has posed challenges to the polio immunisation campaign, causing more than 21,000 children to be missed since its launch on July 1.

As per the official documents detailing immunisation statistics, the campaign aimed to reach 315,398 children under the age of five. However, health officials were unable to immunise 21,411 children. Among them, 19,245 were unavailable at home, while parents of 2,176 children declined the drops offered by the polio teams.

In 24 out of 151 Union Committees (UCs), including three from the cantonment board, immunisation rates ranged between 80% to below 90%. The highest number of refusal cases, totaling 108, were reported in UC 22 of Mian Sarfaraz Town Municipal Corporation (TMC), followed by 102, 101, and 98 cases in UC 118, UC 115, and UC 107 of TMC Shah Latifabad.

Among the nine TMCs under Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC), Shah Latifabad recorded 511 refusal cases, followed by 331 in Mian Sarfaraz, 291 in Nerunkot, 270 in Sachal Sarmast, 252 in Preetabad, 195 in Hussainabad, 110 in Qasimabad, 98 in Tandojam, and 45 in Tando Fazal.

Additionally, there were 73 cases within the administrative limits of Cantonment Board Hyderabad.

Notably, the highest number of refusal cases came from the urban talukas of Latifabad and City, while the rural talukas of Tandojam and Tando Fazl reported the least refusals.

Authorities have warned citizens that refusal to cooperate could result in imprisonment under the Sindh Immunisation and Epidemics Control Act of 2023, which imposes a one-month jail term and Rs50,000 fine.

However, enforcement of the law has been lacking, leading to resistance among the populace towards the polio teams. Health authorities have categorized refusal cases into six types, such as children being sick, parental or community demands, misconceptions about immunisation, direct refusals, religious objections, and resistance due to repeated campaigns.

During the recent campaign, over 1,000 parents cited medical grounds for not allowing their children to receive drops, while approximately 900 parents directly refused immunisation.

Likewise, 2,683 children were not available at their residences during home to home coverage in TMC Sachal Sarmast, 2,486 in Qasimabad, 2,470 in Nerunkot, 2,254 in Shah Latifabad, 2,138 in Hussainabad, 1,775 in Mian Sarfaraz, 1641 in Tandojam, 1405 in Tando Fazal and 1403 in Preetabad.

The environmental samples of polio virus taken from three drainage pumping stations of Hyderabad were tested positive in the months of May and June.


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