17/05/2022

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Malawi to launch polio vaccination campaign

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Malawi will launch on Sunday a nationwide campaign to vaccinate kids against Polio after a case was recorded in February. Africa was declared free of wild poliovirus in 2020.

If over 80% of eligible children are already vaccinated against polio in Malawi, the Southwestern African country will launch a nationwide campaign on Sunday. “Malawi has secured 6.8 million doses of the oral polio vaccine that will be given to children under the age of five across all the 29 districts in Malawi, Dr Susan Kambale, a national professional officer for child health (WHO Malawi) says. So we are talking about 2.5 million children under 5 year old who will be receiving this vaccine and we aim to reach every child we are not leaving any child unvaccinated and that’s the way to go if we are to interrup further transimission of the wild poliovirus.

The move comes after a case of wild polio, the first in the country since 1992, was recorded last February.

After the discovery, 11 surveillance sites were activated in the country to monitor the outbreak. Sanitary authorities also started community engagement activities to spread the message: “People go to churches, go to mosques, children go to schools so even the children even in primary school if they can be given these information about polio they can even be the great advocates in their families encouraging their parents to bring children for vaccination so that they’re protected from polio and these days social media have a large coverage so one way is to disseminate the message through the social media“, Dr Susan Kambale explains.

All heath facilities will offer polio vaccine free of charge. Once children receive their 4 doses, they’re protected from the disease which can result in permanent paralysis.

The oral polio vaccines targeting 2 strains of the virus, including the one detected in Malawi, will also be given through outreach clinics. Routine immunazation in Malawi given to children protects them from all 3 strains of the virus.

The campaign will proceed in four rounds as neighbouring countries (Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia) also conduct immunization programmes.