WHO plans immunisation campaign in IS-controlled Syria

The World Health Organisation hopes to begin a mass immunisation campaign in Deir ez-Zor after the outbreak of the vaccine-derived poliovirus paralyses two children.

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New cases of the crippling disease have been discovered in IS-controlled Deir Ezzor in Syria. The rare vaccine-derived polioviruses surfaced in populations that have low immunity against the disease.

According to VOA News, around 90,000 children below five years will be targeted under the mass polio immunisation campaign. WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer emphasized that the polio virus is spreading and it must be stopped.

“We have the global supply,” Rosenbauer said. “It can be released, but, the big question, as you rightly pointed out — how is it going to be delivered, who is going to deliver it. That is always the challenge.”

Access to the area poses a threat as it is controlled by Islamic militants. Rosenbauer told VOA that security is not the only problem. She said it is important to use the vaccine in complete discretion as it is possible that during the campaign children might get infected with polio from the vaccine-derived strain.

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