Chennai, Jan 8 (PTI) Children below five years of age should be administered oral polio vaccine on January 17 and parents should ensure it, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Harsh Vardhan said here on Friday.
Recalling the last case of polio virus in the country, exactly 10 years ago during January 2011 in West Bengal, he said the World Health Organisation certified India as polio free in 2014.
'Today, in spite of the fact that virtually all the countries in the world have eradicated polio, two of our neighbouring countries still have cases of the poliomyelitis, the P1 strain and the number is significant,' he told reporters after overseeing the dry run for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital here.
The Minister, however, did not specify the two countries.
According to the WHO's website on polio section, only three countries in the world have never stopped transmission of polio, which are Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Considering the prevalence of the contagion in nearby countries, there is a risk factor and the National Expert Group on Immunisation in consultation with international health authorities have taken into account such factors.
'We have decided that on January 17, we are going to have our national immunisation days for polio which will run for two to three days,' he said adding the drive covered aspects like identifying and immunising children left out from vaccination.
The vaccination is very essential to ensure that the nation maintained overall immunity levels against polio virus, he said.
'We have to once again ensure that 100 per cent children less than five years accompanied by their parents should receive two drops of oral polio vaccine on that day.' He exuded confidence that the country with its competence and long experience on administering vaccines would perform well on polio vaccine too.
Vardhan requested NGOs and volunteers of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Service Scheme (NSS) to pitch in for the smooth 'conduct of COVID-19 vaccination,' expected soon and for mobilisation of beneficiaries.PTI VGN SS / PTI PTI