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Third National Polio Vaccination campaign launched

By JT - Mar 02,2014 - Last updated at Mar 02,2014

AMMAN — The Health Ministry and its UN partners launched the third round of the National Polio Vaccination Campaign at the Mafraq Comprehensive Health Centre on Sunday, according to a UNICEF statement.

The new immunisation campaign, which continues through Thursday, targets some 950,000 children across Jordan — including in refugee camps, host communities and settlements — aged five years and younger, who will receive two drops of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). 

“Polio remains behind Jordan’s doors,” said Michele Servadei, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Jordan. 

“Vaccination is a top priority in UNICEF’s equity agenda and because there is no halfway when it comes to polio vaccination; all children under five must be vaccinated for the country to remain polio free,” the statement quoted Servadei as saying. 

“I would like to appeal to all families and caregivers to bring their children for this crucial third round of polio vaccination,” Servadei said.

The campaign is supported by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNHCR. 

“The continuous effort of the Ministry of Health in Jordan in the fight against polio is a great achievement,” WHO Public Health Officer Sabri Gmach noted. 

“The success seen in the November campaign proves that a comprehensive coverage is possible,” he said. 

“We hope that with the launch of this new campaign we can complete the task. Together with the [ministry] and our local and international partners, WHO believes the excellent overall coverage in Jordan can be maintained,” Gmach added.

Servadei and Gmach attended the launch of the third round on Sunday in Mafraq, where UNHCR External Relations Officer Frauke Riller and Health Minister Ali Hiasat were also present, according to the statement.

“It is critical that high coverage of polio vaccination is achieved among all children. To achieve this, UNHCR has been mobilising Syrian refugees, wherever they live in Jordan, in camps, rural and urban areas alike,” Riller said. 

“Parents need to be aware of the campaign and know where to get their children vaccinated,” he added.

The first and second national immunisation campaigns that took place in November and December 2013 in Jordan were “highly successful”, with 1.1 million and over 900,000 children vaccinated respectively, according to the statement. 

The third round of polio vaccination aims to ensure that all children in Jordan remain free of the disease.

Polio resurfaced in Syria last October after more than 14 years; however, Jordan and neighbouring countries remain polio free to date. 

The virus is active in 10 countries, primarily among the most disadvantaged, remote and conflict-affected populations, whereby only three countries have endemic polio transmission, namely Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to UNICEF.

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