Polio 2: So Far So Good

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Day one of the second round of the polio mass immunization campaign was a resounding success, with less problems of congestion and low supply of the vaccine reported. During the first round of the vaccination process, most immunization centres experienced overcrowding, with some running out of vaccines. As early as 08h00 yesterday morning, thousands of people flocked to different vaccination points eager to get their two drops of Monovalent Type One Oral Poliomyelitis (mOPV) vaccine. Doctor Ithindi Shipanga at the Katutura Health Centre confirmed that the second round held promises and that problems were less likely to occur. She reported, “there is no overcrowding. We learnt from the first round and we made sure we have many immunization points.” She added that the authorities were able to identify from the first exercise which areas were densely populated and then dispatch excess vaccines to those areas. A mobile team under the leadership of a student nurse Dorothy Anton also told New Era that it had vaccinated over 1 000 people by 14h00 yesterday. It carried out a door-to-door exercise in the Katutura Township. Unlike most permanent immunization points (health centres), the mobile team that started with its operations at 07h30 had to rush back to the health centre for more vaccines at 15h00. The turnout was exceptionally good and many people were eager to get their doses, Anton said. The Nathaniel Maxuilili Community Centre in the Babylon area of Katutura also recorded an impressive turnout. Though the centre only had 100 tubes with a capacity of 20 drops (100 tubes x 20 drops for 10 individuals), health official at the site Louise Taapopi revealed that everything ran smoothly. A driver was also on standby should there be need for restocking vaccines. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday expressed satisfaction with the ongoing polio immunization process, adding that there was a sense of order at the few immunization points he visited. “A large number of people has gone through, they already had their drops,” he said. By midday yesterday, most immunization points had attended to about 2 000 individuals. There were no reports of cases of vaccine shortages. Since the outbreak was declared more than a month ago, 212 cases have been reported, with 19 confirmed as polio. The remaining 193 cases have not been confirmed as polio by the ministry. However, most diseases are said to have symptoms that can mimic polio. The second round concludes tomorrow (July 20, 2006) while the third round will be from August 22 to 24 for children under five. This is the largest polio vaccination exercise since the country attained independence.