Frequently Asked Questions - Faqs
What is the Islamic guidance on polio vaccine?
Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is safe and has been declared halal by Islamic leaders all over the world – the Grand Sheik Tantawi of Al-Azhar University, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and the Majelis Council of Ulemmas in Indonesia. Other prominent international institutions endorsing OPV include Dar al UloomDeo-Band, India; the Organization of the Islamic Conference; the International Union for Muslim Scholars (Mufti Dr. Yousuf al-Qaradawi); Imam of Masjid Al Aqsa (Bait ulMuqades) and other prominent scholars and muftis from all sects in all provinces of Pakistan. All hajjis traveling for Haj from Pakistan are now required to be vaccinated against polio. All major religious schools and sects have lent their support to polio eradication and many have issued fatwas in support.
Is it safe to administer multiple doses of OPV to children?
Yes, it is safe to administer multiple doses of polio vaccine to children. The vaccine is designed to be administered multiple times to ensure full protection. In the tropics, several doses of polio vaccine are required for a child to be fully protected – sometimes more than ten. This vaccine is safe for all children. Each additional dose further strengthens a child's immunity level against polio.
How many doses of OPV does a child need before they are protected?
OPV needs to be administered multiple times to be fully effective. The number of doses it takes to immunize a child depends entirely on the child's health and nutritional status, and how many other viruses that child has been exposed to. Until a child is fully immunized THEY ARE STILL AT RISK FROM POLIO. This just emphasizes the need for all children to be immunized during every round of national immunization days. Every missed child is a place for the polio virus to hide.
Should a child receive OPV during polio campaigns and routine immunization?
Yes. Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is safe and effective and every extra dose means a child gets extra protection against polio. It takes multiple doses of OPV to achieve full immunity against polio. If a child has received the vaccine before, then extra doses given during the National or Sub National Immunization Days (NIDs/SNIDs) will give valuable additional immunity against polio.
Is OPV safe for sick children and newborns?
Yes. OPV is safe to be given to sick children. In fact it is particularly critical that sick children are immunized during the campaigns, and newborn babies, because their immunity levels are lower than other children. All sick children and newborns should be immunized during the coming campaigns to give them the protection against polio that they desperately need.
Mothers and caretakers should remember that Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is not treatment for other childhood illnesses a child may have prior to immunization. Therefore, a mother/caretaker whose child gets polio vaccines when the child had a pre-existing illness, should take the child to the nearest health centre for proper medical care.
Why do some children get infected by polio even after having received multiple doses?
Building immunity against virus is a very complex biological process. We are all different; as are organisms' reactions to medications and vaccines. Few children may acquire strong immunity after just five or six doses of the polio vaccine, while the most vulnerable children need more than ten. The immune system of underweight, malnourished and children suffering from diarrhoea responds to the polio vaccine in a different way than of healthy children. Therefore, to remain protected, all children under five years of age should receive polio vaccine every immunization round.
Why so many vaccination campaigns?
To stop polio transmission no less than 95% of all children of Pakistan should be immunized during each campaign. To achieve this high coverage is very challenging logistically. In other words, the remaining 5% that make almost 2 million unimmunized children should be reached during consecutive campaigns in a short interval to ensure all children are covered. Furthermore, once the polio virus is detected in a certain area, an additional campaign will be carried out for that district to prevent potential outbreak of polio amongst children in the community. That is why multiple polio campaigns are done every year. No child should miss a single dose of polio vaccine! Each additional dose is an additional protection against polio.
What about protection from other diseases?
Along with this special effort to eradicate polio it is important that routine immunization against polio and other diseases is well established. Every year more than 5 million children are born in Pakistan. If we miss their routine vaccination against polio, measles and rubella, tetanus, pertussis and other life-threatening diseases we shall have a large cohort of children at risk that will need to be "caught up" during special campaigns that require enormous efforts. Every parent must ensure that their child's vaccination is up to date! Take your child to the nearest health site for vaccination routine vaccination.
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