Government rolls out polio vaccination after detecting rare mutation cases 

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By Staff Reporter

The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday rolled out a polio vaccination campaign following the recent confirmation of an outbreak in the country.

The Health Ministry started the campaign in collaboration with UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) among other partners using the novel OPV type two (nOPV2) vaccine.

The nationwide campaign is targeting all children under the age of 10.

Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora said the outbreak is a cause for concern.

“The detection of cVDPV2 is a serious concern, but we are prepared to respond swiftly and effectively.

“This nationwide vaccination campaign demonstrates our unwavering commitment to protecting the health of every child in Zimbabwe,” said the minister in a statement.

The campaign is targeting to reach 4 million children in each of the two phases using high-quality oral polio vaccines.

To ensure wide coverage, it will combine the usual vaccination at health facilities with a door-to-door approach.

Poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) was recently confirmed to be circulating.

Through routine environmental surveillance seventeen circulating poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) were detected in sewage samples collected in Harare.

Additionally, through intensified disease surveillance the Health ministry identified three human cases of polio in Mashonaland West and Harare Provinces.

Zimbabwe is using the novel OPV2 vaccine, a critical new and safe tool in the fight against cVDPV2 launched by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 2021 for the first time.

Meanwhile, in support of the polio vaccination campaign, large-scale communication activities are being rolled out to ensure parents are fully informed and motivated to have their children vaccinated.

Community and religious leaders have also been urged to support communities during the vaccination campaign and promote public awareness about polio.

The response to the outbreak is financially supported by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a consortium that includes Rotary International, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI-The Vaccine Alliance, WHO and UNICEF.