COVID-19 Vaccination Campaigns Will Apply Lessons Learned in Polio Eradication

The Polio Vaccination Program in the Southeast Asian achieved eradication of the disease ten years ago and serves as a reference for the design of mass immunization campaigns that, on a larger scale, will be carried out with the aim of ending the COVID-19 pandemic, indicated the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the WHO regional director for Southeast Asia, the countries in that part of the world are making “unprecedented efforts to protect their vulnerable populations from COVID-19 through vaccination.”

Dr. Poonam Khetrapal reported that Indonesia launched the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday and that India will start one of the largest immunization programs in the world as of January 16, while in other countries of the region the campaigns will begin soon.

WHO support

The UN agency reiterated that safe and effective vaccines can change the rules of the game if they are accessible to all vulnerable populations in all countries of the world.

WHO works with all governments in the planning and deployment of campaigns of vaccination, putting at the forefront its network of officers in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Nepal, which was key in the polio eradication program.

The guidelines and operational plans for immunization against SARS-COV2, which causes COVID-19, incorporate the best practices from experience in the case of poliovirus in aspects such as training of vaccinators and logistics and vaccine management, among others.

Commitment and participation

In addition to these strategies, the commitment and participation of the community will be crucial, both to have a appropriate behavior in the pandemic environment as for the vaccination itself.

The WHO recalled that vaccines will help reduce the pandemic, but they will not end it by themselves since its scope will be limited at first. For this reason, he called on the world population to keep their guard up with measures such as the use of masks, hand washing and physical distancing.

On the other hand, he urged the health authorities of all countries to continue with basic public health provisions, among which are the testing, identification, tracking and isolation of cases, and the treatment of patients to prevent the spread of the virus.

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