The Ministry of Health and Child Care conducted Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) Phase Three, targeting all the provinces in the country, last week in order to protect all children at risk.
There was a need to conduct the supplementary immunization vaccination so that all children were protected.
The polio vaccination started on May 23 and ran until May 26, targeting all ages from 0 to 59 months.
There was a door-to-door vaccination campaign and also the registration of houses before the program.
To protect children under the age of five, officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care were conducting oral polio vaccination (OPV) across the whole country.
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Ministry of Health conducts Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) Phase Three
West Provincial Health Officer, Dr. George, said there is an outbreak of polio in neighboring countries such as Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania.
“All children under the age of five years, regardless of their polio vaccination status, even if your child was previously vaccinated, should still get vaccinated for increased protection.
“Children who were vaccinated during the first and second rounds should come for vaccination, including all new-born babies,” said Dr.
He added that the main symptoms of polio affecting children are sudden weakness or paralysis of limbs and sudden failure to walk or crawl.
“Polio is spread through ingesting contaminated water or food and has no cure.
The primary prevention is oral polio vaccination (kudonhedzera mukanwa),” said the doctor.
He advised all parents and caregivers to ensure that all children under the age of five are vaccinated and that they should encourage others in their areas to have their children vaccinated and also report to the nearest health facility all children with sudden weakness of limbs.
“The primary way is to get your child vaccinated; the secondary way of preventing polio is proper toilet use; avoid bush toilets.
“Always wash hands with soap and clean water after using the toilet, preparing, or eating food; after changing your child’s nappy; wash fruits and vegetables with safer and clean water; and also keep the environment clean”, advised the doctor.
He added that health workers visited people’s houses to vaccinate children.
Vaccinations also took place at health facilities, schools, markets, churches, bus stations, and supermarkets.
Currently, polio is posing a threat as an outbreak hits neighboring countries, and this calls for the country to prevent it by vaccination, as prevention is better than cure.
Polio is preventable through inactive polio vaccines and oral polio vaccines, which are administered in different phases.
The history of polio can be traced to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the disease killed many in the United States of America and a physician named Jonas Salk came up with the vaccine.
The Zimbabwean population was affected by polio in the early 2000s due to a lack of information and access to basic health facilities.
The mass rollout of the vaccination is a huge step towards prevention, as polio affects the nervous system, causes spinal and respiratory paralysis, and in some cases causes death, according to the World Health Organization.