Amid the COVID-19 vaccination drive, India will be starting off a 3-day Polio vaccination drive on 31 January 2021. Although the inoculation drive was scheduled from January 17, it was later rescheduled in view of the COVID-19 drive which began on January 16.
The Government of India informed in a press release saying, “With the countrywide Covid-19 vaccination drive scheduled to be rolled out on 16 January, the MoHFW in consultation with the office of President of India has rescheduled the Polio vaccination day to 31 January 2021.”
Earlier on Saturday, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind initiated the first phase of the polio drive by administrating the polio drops to children at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
President Kovind launches the first round of Pulse Polio Programme 2021 by administering Polio drops to children at Rashtrapati Bhavan. pic.twitter.com/ukIiqGyq4R
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) January 30, 2021
The immunization programme will have children falling between the ages of zero to five years administered the polio drops. The vaccination programme will go on for three days and will end on February 2. As the vaccination drive commences on Sunday, it will be referred to as Polio Ravivar and will also be observed as the National Immunization Day.
This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, the drive will be adhering to all the COVID-19 protocols where all the health care workers will be wearing masks and conduct the drive keeping in mind social distancing. Additionally, as senior citizens are in the biggest threat group for the infectious coronavirus, people above the age of 50 have been asked to not accompany the children to the immunization sites.
Media reports are also suggesting that the COVID-19 vaccination drive may be put on a hold for the three days when the polio vaccination programme will be held. Till 2020, the immunization drive was held twice every year. However, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization decided that in 2021 only a single round will be conducted.
It should be noted that India was declared polio-free in 2014 along with the entire South-East Asia region. According to reports, the last case of polio was registered in 2011 in West Bengal and since then not a single case has been reported. However, the country is still at risk due to the fact that its neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan are still battling with the virus.