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Polio drive in Maharashtra postponed due to COVID-19 vaccine launch

Union Health Ministry told the state ministers during a virtual meeting last week that India cannot afford to allow other health intervention programmes such as polio drive cannot suffer because of impending COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.

Polio drive in Maharashtra postponed due to COVID-19 vaccine launch
(Representational Image)
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As India is all set to begin its COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16, the Union Health Ministry has postponed its pulse polio programme, scheduled to be held on January 17.

After the Centre’s order, the National Polio Immunisation drive has been put on hold in the Maharashtra to defer it as the health machinery is gearing for the launch of COVID vaccination.

An estimated 1.2 crore children aged up to five years were to be vaccinated in the polio drive. The state immunisation officer stated that since immunisation teams are currently busy with the COVID vaccine launch the police drive has been postponed.

However, no decision has been taken yet on when to hold polio vaccine drive next.

Ironically, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, earlier, was urging the state governments to make the oral polio campaign a grand success. Moreover, he told the state health ministers during a virtual meeting last week that India cannot afford to allow other health intervention programmes such as polio drive cannot suffer because of impending COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.

Children are administered polio drops during national and sub-national immunization rounds (in high risk areas such as Mumbai and Thane) every year. The last polio case in the country was reported from West Bengal in January 2011.

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