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Polio vaccination campaign begins in South Sudan

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A campaign to vaccinate 1.5 million children against polio was launched in South Sudan, as 15 irreversible paralysis cases for those younger than 5 were confirmed across five states, WHO Africa said Friday.

The campaign was implemented after South Sudan, alongside other African countries, was declared polio-free Aug. 25. There has not been a recorded outbreak of the wild poliovirus in South Sudan for more than 10 years.

To confront the outbreak, the Ministry of Health formed “an emergency task force comprising of WHO, UNICEF and other partners” to rapidly make necessary arrangements, WHO Africa said in the report.

“As the number of confirmed cases has continued to rise in the last few weeks, the campaign will target children in seven states and 45 counties in the first round,” it said.

“We need to move fast to stop this outbreak from harming more children,” South Sudan’s Health Minister Elizabeth Achue was quoted in the report.

“I urge all parents to take their children for polio vaccination including those who have already been vaccinated,” she said.

“Immunization is a must and complacency can kill,” Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF South Sudan Representative was quoted in the report.

“We must ensure all children in South Sudan are taken for routine immunization which includes the polio vaccine, so this does not happen again when the outbreak is curbed,” he said. “There is a lot of love in every needle prick, that is how we are protecting the next generation.”

Seventeen African countries “are currently experiencing cVDPV2 outbreaks, which can occur in under-immunized communities,” according to the report.

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