23 million children to be vaccinated in massive Middle East polio campaign

polio vaccine syria (RIBI Image Library http://www.flickr.com/photos/91311153@N02/)

The WHO has announced intentions to vaccinate more than 23 million children in Syria and surrounding countries in a massive vaccination campaign that’s been labelled the “largest-ever†in the Middle East.

As of 9th December, the WHO reports that 17 cases of polio have been confirmed in Syria, a country that has been rocked by war and conflict in the past months. Prior to this outbreak, Syria had seen no cases of polio since 1999.

The outbreak of the virus-borne disease in Syria has triggered this enormous immunization response, which organizers will hope stop the outbreak and prevent further spread.

The campaign aims to reach 2.2 million children in Syria, including those children who were missed in an earlier campaign due to inaccessibility. Ongoing conflict had curtailed previous vaccination efforts, with cold chain equipment in many districts being lost and mobile health teams not able to perform visits.

UNICEF has also announced that it will support the Palestinian Ministry of Health partners to immunize over 600,000 children in Palestine, beginning with the West Bank and Gaza.

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