By Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, Health Education Officer-HED/MoHS
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with its partners will embark on a 2 rounds of reactive National Polio Vaccination campaigns in May and June, targeting over 1.4 million children 0-5 years of age. Round 1 will take place on Saturday 15th – Tuesday 18th May and round 2 is scheduled for Friday 11th – Monday 14th June this year. The campaign is a lifesaving intervention to protect children from poliomyelitis/polio virus thereby reducing morbidity and death in children.
The strategy of the campaign is house-to-house in which teams of health workers will go to households to vaccinate eligible children 0-5 years to protect them against polio. It is advisable for caregivers/mothers to endeavor to search for the teams in their communities where your house might have been missed or not visited. You can as well go to the nearest health facility for your child to receive the much needed FREE polio vaccine.
You will recall that in December 2020, the country recorded confirmed cases of polio in Kambia, Tonkolili and Western Area Urban which paved the way for increased case search and investigations both in the affected districts and beyond.
This occurred at the aftermath when Africa had been certified polio free in August, 2020. The virus emerged again because children were left unimmunized putting them at risk of the virus, so there is now need for vaccination to stop the spread of the disease in communities among unimmunized children.
If a child is not protected and catches the virus he/she will have permeant paralysis (die han en die fut). The only way to prevent polio is through vaccination with 2 drops of polio vaccine, which can be given at different intervals during the child’s early life development plus booster during campaigns.
Polio vaccines are also given to children under 2 years of age in the routine immunization system in all Government health facilities across the country.
Polio is a sickness caused by polio virus. It usually spreads through contaminated food and unclean water. Children up to 5 years of age need to be protected from this sickness.
The younger the child, the higher the risk of getting polio. A child with polio can have fever, tiredness, headache, vomiting, and weakness or paralysis in the arms and legs. It can cause die han en fut hand and can also lead to death in rare circumstances. Any child under 15 years old who was crawling or walking and who suddenly no longer crawls or walks couldhave been infected with polio. This can be confirmed with additional tests because there are other conditions that present in a similar manner. Polio can limit the growth and development of the child.