MINGORA: The Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) has introduced injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in Swat to strengthen the immunisation programme and accelerate polio eradication.

“The introduction of IPV here is a part of the routine immunisation aimed at scaling up children’s immunity against polio,” Dr Tahir Nadeem, deputy project director EPI, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told mediapersons at an awareness session titled ‘building partnership – role of media in strengthening routine immunisation’ organized by EPI, KP, Uks Resource Center and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on Tuesday.

“IPV is an extremely safe vaccine whether used alone or in combination with other vaccines. When receiving IPV during routine immunisation, children will also benefit by being immunised with other potentially life-saving vaccines,” Dr Nadeem said.

He said that poliovirus was endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nigeria has got off the list of polio endemic countries recently this year.

“The introduction of IPV in routine immunisation schedules is a critical step to achieve a lasting polio-free world,” he said.

Oral polio vaccine (OPV) has been used in Pakistan as a primary tool in the polio eradication effort.

“New evidence now clearly demonstrates that adding one dose of IPV to multiple doses of OPV is the most effective method available to stop the virus transmission and protect children,” he said.

The introduction of IPV globally also paved the way for the eventual withdrawal of all OPV vaccines once poliovirus transmission is stopped in the remaining polio-affected countries.

“Over four million children a year will benefit from the introduction of inactivated polio vaccine in Pakistan,” he said.

The speakers stressed on public awareness of the immunisation in the country and said that without media that was impossible.

Huam Khawar, a freelance journalist said that its time for media to create awareness on immunization and become partners in creating awareness on the immunization.  “Taking is as a social responsibility, media can play an effective role of increasing the immunization coverage of children under five from all vaccine preventable diseases,” she said.