Second round polio immunization drive starts in Tajikistan

Ensuring all children under 6 are vaccinated at every round is essential to stop the polio outbreak

The second five-day poliomyelitis (polio) immunization campaign is starting today in Tajikistan to stop a polio outbreak across the country. The third round will be held on 1-5 June. WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are supporting the immunization drives organized by the Ministry of Health. Results from the first round report that more than 1.1 million children, or 99.6% of children in the target group, have been immunized.

“It is the professional and ethical responsibility of all health care workers to ensure that at all rounds all children under six will be correctly vaccinated so that the situation can be stabilized” says Dr Nusratullo Salimov, Minister of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan. “Anything that will lead to children under six not being vaccinated will undermine our efforts to stop polio as soon as possible.” Children under 6 years of age are those at highest risk and primarily responsible for transmitting the polio virus in the community.

The Ministry of Health is carefully monitoring and investigating the evolution of the polio outbreak in Tajikistan with the support of international partners.

“Every dose of vaccine counts. Additional doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) will strengthen children’s immunity against polio”, adds Dr Santino Severoni, Head of WHO Country Office,in Tajikistan. “This is why every child under 6 must be immunized at least three times to stop the transmission of the virus. Every missed child is a place for the poliovirus to hide.” OPV is safe and effective and has already reduced the number of polio cases by more than 99% in the world.

“There has been a tremendous effort to immunize children in isolated, hard to reach communities,” concludes Mrs Siyma Barkin Kuzmin, UNICEF Tajikistan Officer in Charge. “Together we need to make sure that this second round is even more far reaching”.

During the national immunization days, children can be vaccinated free of charge at immunization points located in hospitals, local health centres and other ad hoc dedicated areas like schools or kindergartens. Parents and caregivers should make sure that all children, including those living in remote, isolated and underserved communities across the country are vaccinated at every round, especially in case they missed the first vaccination. Local health personnel should be alerted in case of some missed children.

Teams of the Ministry of Health with the support of WHO and UNICEF are travelling across the country to monitor the immunization campaign and to investigate possible spread of the polio virus. Reports from the field indicate that the population has a good understanding of the emergency and of the need to protect their children from the disease by triple vaccination.

Health professional, advocacy materials and television are spreading messages. Solid support from the media though appropriate messages prompting the population to vaccinate all their children under six is critical to ensure parental demand for this vaccine.

For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan
Ms. Fatima Goibova, Press Officer
Tel.: +992 (44) 600 60 02 (office), +992 (918) 21 46 46 (mob.)

WHO in Tajikistan
Ms. Cristiana Salvi, Communication Officer
Tel.: +992 (90) 500 02 33

UNICEF in Tajikistan
Mr Alexander Sodiqov, Communication Officer
Tel.: +992 (918) 31 00 57