ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Dr Faisal Sultan on Friday launched the first Sub-National Immunization Days (SNIDs) campaign of the year 2022. The polio vaccination campaign will start from January 24 in all four provinces, covering 70 districts across Pakistan to vaccinate over 22.4 million children under five years old. However, the vaccination drive was started in six high-risk districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from January 17. Over 150,000 trained and dedicated “Sehat Muhafiz” will be engaged in the vaccination drive to inoculate the targeted children at their doorstep. This will help build general immunity among susceptible children to protect them from polio. “Our aim is to ensure timely and repeated vaccination of eligible children. In 2022, the Polio programme will focus on sustaining the gains achieved in 2021. A targeted approach is being adopted to address the challenges in high-risk areas,” said Dr Faisal while inaugurating the anti-polio campaign. He said, “The country has recorded a historic low number of cases in 2021 and we don’t want to lose this opportunity to finally defeat this crippling disease by being vigilant and persistent.” He examined the vaccination arrangements and emphasized the importance of providing seamless services to children. He asked the parents and caregivers to cooperate with the vaccinators for the safe future of their children. Dr. Shahzad Baig, National Coordinator, Polio Eradication Programme, Sundas Irshad, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Coordinator and Additional Health Secretary, Primary and Secondary Health Care Department, were among other dignitaries and government officials, who attended the event. “The Polio programme is optimistic about controlling the poliovirus despite complex challenges. I urge all stakeholders to ensure accessible and quality vaccination services to all eligible children,” said Dr Shahzad Baig. Referring to the importance of repeated vaccination, he said, “Polio vaccine is safe, and it helps to build immunity among children against the poliovirus. The repeated polio vaccination campaigns are imperative for building immunity among children and preventing possible death or lifelong paralysis.” Recent epidemiological data indicate the declining trend of polio cases and decreased detection of viruses in sewage samples suggesting the programme is on track. The Sehat Tahhafuz Helpline 1166 and 24/7 WhatsApp Helpline 0346-777-65-46 will be available to assist parents and caregivers in reporting missed children and providing related information.