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Zimbabwe begins polio vaccination drive as neighboring country records new cases

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Oct 27, 2022 - 12:45 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AA) – Zimbabwe on Wednesday launched a nationwide polio vaccination campaign aimed at reaching 2.6 million children below the age of five, as a neighboring country recorded fresh cases.

The campaign will run through Oct. 30 and from Dec. 1 to Dec. 4 while targeting at least 95% of the under five years in the country.

This came as Malawi reported three new polio cases earlier this month, bringing the total number of cases recorded this year in the country to four.

While primary health institutions will be used during the drive, health officials will also go door to door, making sure no eligible children are left behind, according to the Ministry of Health.

“Today, we officially launch a mass campaign to vaccinate and protect all children under the age of five years in Zimbabwe against polio,” Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro told the media in Harare on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe last recorded a polio case in 1989.

“The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated that since 1988, the polio vaccine has prevented more than 10 million cases of paralysis and saved the lives of approximately 500,000 children,” said Tajudeen Oyewale, UNICEF’s head of mission in Zimbabwe.

The deputy health minister said COVID-19 interrupted several immunization programs but declared that Zimbabwe was going to keep polio out of its borders and make sure routine immunizations continue.

“The national polio vaccination drive which we launch today is being implemented in close collaboration with four other countries in the region namely Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.

“It is part of a raft of public health measures we are implementing to respond to mitigate the impact of re-emerging polio outbreaks so far reported in Malawi and Mozambique,” Mangwiro added.

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