The provincial government will use the injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) during the campaign against the virus from Wednesday (today).
Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Director Munir Ahmed said the introduction of IPV showed that the government was committed to eradicating the disease.
He said polio had become a national embarrassment and featured high on the government’s priorities. He said a national emergency had, therefore, been declared against polio.
“The introduction of IPV reflects the government’s renewed emphasis on taking routine immunisation on par with other countries in the region,” he said. “The Punjab is eyeing 90 per cent immunisation coverage by the end of next year. By doing so, we can achieve the dream of eradicating polio completely.”
He said studies had shown that IPV in addition to oral polio vaccine (OPV) was the best way to boost immunity. “IPV and the OPV go hand in hand. The OPV is still mainly used to eradicate polio. A child should get one dose of IPV and as many doses of OPV as are offered,” Ahmed said.
He said the introduction of IPV was a milestone in polio’s endgame strategies. It is part of the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, developed in consultation with stakeholders, polio-infected countries, partners and global advisory bodies.
The plan envisages introduction of at least one dose of IPV in the routine immunisation programmes in the 126 countries using trivalent oral polio vaccine. Before it was made part of the routine immunisation programme, the IPV had been introduced in a campaign mode in selected high-risk union councils from June 8 to 16.
No polio case has been reported in the Punjab this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2015.