The astonishing journey of the polio vaccine

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The astonishing journey of the polio vaccine

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Flown directly from the manufacturing plant, polio vaccine arrives by plane in Islamabad.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaid

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In Islamabad, the vaccine is stored centrally in cold warehouses before being dispatched to districts all over Pakistan: more than 1000 km from the village Kamber Shahdadkot, it is still hours away from reaching children who need it.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

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The 'Cold Chain' is key to keeping the vaccine vital : health officials transport the vaccine in an insulated box to maintain the temperature controlled in each stage from manufacturer to distribution.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

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Traveling by Jeep: the journey continues by truck as the vaccine makes its way through the back roads of Kamber Shahdadkot in northern Sindh.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

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From Jeep to donkey-back: when the truck encounters a hilly terrain, a third method of transportation is employed: the vaccine is carried on the back of donkeys.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

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A delicate balance: polio team members balance the fragile cargo across the rocky terrain. The vaccine is often transported by horse, donkey or boat to reach the country's most remote areas.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

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Taking steps to keep mother and child healthy: now the vaccine journey is complete. A health worker administers drops of the vaccine into the mouth of the little boy who takes his first step in life.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

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After vaccinating children, the polio team member puts an identification ink mark on the little finger of the child’s left hand: this allows health monitors to identify missed out children: Any child without the finger mark is considered unvaccinated.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

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Having all children under five years in a household vaccinated against polio, the team marks the house to show it has been covered during polio eradication campaign. Since the introduction of door-to-door polio eradication campaigns in 2000, Pakistan has a significant decrease in polio cases from thousands to only 16 cases in May 2012.
© UNICEF Pakistan/2011/Asad Zaidi

 

The fight against polio is one of the largest and most ambitious globally coordinated health initiative in history. It has mobilized millions of volunteers around the world, staged massive immunization campaigns, and helped strengthen health systems in low-income countries. Today polio eradication is within reach, but we must remain vigilant: polio paralyzes thousands of children every year all over the world.

This story follows the journey of the polio vaccine from the factory to the remote village of Kamber Shahdadkot in northern Sindh in Pakistan: the huge effort is meant to ensure children from the most marginalized communities enjoy their right to lead a healthy, polio-free life.