Zimbabwe: ‘Polio Vaccine Is Safe for Children’

THE poliovirus vaccine being administered to children during the ongoing vaccination and revaccination campaign is totally safe and will protect them from illness, the Government has said.

The vaccination blitz started yesterday and will run until Sunday, targeting 95 percent of all the 2,5 million children under the age of five in the country. The blitz follows a World Health Organisation alert after cases were reported in Malawi and Mozambique, and the mass vaccination is taking place in those two countries plus Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the major neighbours.

Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said the programme was moving smoothly with more children expected to receive the vaccine over the next three days.

"From what we have seen here, there are plenty of children who have managed to get the vaccine. From the reports I am getting nationwide, the programme has taken off well and we want to reassure the nation that the vaccines are available so they should take their children to get vaccinated. The vaccine is very safe. It has been proven that it has no side effects in the kids who have received it in Zimbabwe. This is not a new thing since Zimbabwe has a fixed Expanded Programme on Immunisation for the immunisation of children. It is not only against polio but against many other diseases that can be prevented," he said.

Polio is a contagious viral disease that, in its most severe form, causes nerve injury leading to paralysis and difficulty in breathing and children below five years are at high risk of contracting it.

The blitz is being conducted at all health facilities across the country while teams are also doing door-to-door mobilisation and vaccination in addition to mobile teams that are covering the hard-to-reach areas.

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"We are doing this because we do not want this virus to cross over into our country. We are moving in every village, every location and we have people moving door to door to ensure we cover all children because they are our future," Dr Mangwiro said.

Parents of children who have so far received the vaccine expressed their confidence in the safety of the vaccine and encouraged other mothers to get their children vaccinated.

Mrs Julia Gurupira, who had come to get her four-year-old granddaughter immunised, said the country had always been vaccinating children and this was not a new phenomenon.

"Vaccination is very important especially against the six killer diseases. I used to take all my children for their vaccinations and now I am doing the same for my granddaughter. I believe these vaccines are good and I encourage others to bring their children to ensure that they are safe from polio," she said.

Another parent, Mrs Rudo Mutamangira, said polio was a dangerous disease and she wanted to protect her children.

"I came to get my children vaccinated because I have heard that polio is a dangerous disease which can lead to paralysis if not prevented so I want to protect them. I always get my children immunised on time and this time is no different," she said.

Artmotion S.Africa

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