Malawi Government through the Ministry of Health will start polio immunization exercise on Monday 21st March, 2022.
The exercise will be done in four months starting from Monday 21st March up to July 2022 and 2.9 Million children under the age of 5 are expected to receive four rounds of the vaccine, regardless of prior vaccination status, to achieve full protection from polio.
Speaking to Malawi24 yesterday, Immunization program Manager in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mike Chisema said the vaccination aims to boost under 5 children’s immunity as the polio disease is a disease that has no cure and the only way it can be prevented is through vaccination.
“You might be aware that on the 17th of February Malawi had declaration of public health emergency due to the Polio Case that was found in Lilongwe, and because of that we have been working to respond to this outbreak especially to contain it within the Country. So we have embarked on Polio response to make sure that we protect these children from the disease. We are targeting 2.9 Million children, we will have four rounds of campaigns, the first round of the exercise starts on Monday 21st to 24 March and four weeks apart for the next three rounds. So it is until July 2022,” said Chisema.
He then assured Malawians that the polio vaccine is safe and has no side effects, therefore parents should bring their children to receive the vaccine as it the only way to prevent the disease.
Chisema also called on media practitioners to be accurate when reporting on polio vaccination and adress issues of hate and discrimination towards polio patients. He added that media plays a big role when it comes to dissemination of information about different diseases and people have so much trust in media. Therefore information being carried to the masses about the polio vaccine should be based on truth.
Malawi so far has only registered one case of Polio in Lilongwe district. Poliovirus causes irreversible paralysis disease mainly in children zero to fifteen years of age. Normally a child would present to a health facility with acute onset of limb weakness which progresses to paralysis. If it is a leg or an arm, it may become relatively smaller (wasted) than the normal body mass and loses function because it is weaker than the rest of the body. It is a disabling and life threatening disease.
Polio is an infectious disease and can be passed from one person to another through ingestion of food or water which is contaminated with polio virus. There are three types (strains) of wild polio virus and these are polio virus 1, polio virus 2 and polio virus 3. The high risk group are those that are unvaccinated or those that have received fewer doses of polio vaccines.