Dubai: With more than 80 per cent of schoolchildren having received their polio vaccine in the first phase, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is now easing into the second phase of the National Polio Campaign, which was advocated during a live Twitter clinic known as #smart clinic.

The national campaign, which is organised by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD), aims to target 416,000 children.

The first phase of the campaign took place from November 16 to 27, while the second phase will run from January 11 to 22.

Polio is an infectious disease that affects young children. It causes lifelong paralysis or death and is not curable. The only way to prevent a child from getting polio is through vaccination. There are no reported cases of polio in the UAE. The vaccine in form of oral drops is proven to be a safe and effective method by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Dr Nussaibah Al Behandy, Specialist Registrar and Acting Head of Health Unit for Schools and Educational Institutes at the DHA, reiterated the importance of the UAE-wide National Polio Campaign that provides free polio vaccines to children under the age of five years.

“We are pleased with the results of the first phase of the vaccination and would like to encourage parents and schools to ensure they keep up the same momentum in the second phase and ensure every child that received the first dose of the vaccine is administered the second dose. Parents are requested to bring their children’s polio vaccination card when they visit the health centres. Moreover, those children that missed the first dose of the vaccine can also take the second dose, either through the school clinics or through any of the DHA’s primary health care centres.”

Training to administer vaccines

Around 116 schools in Dubai are part of this campaign and provided the polio vaccine on their premises. The remaining 53 schools in Dubai notified the parents of the various health centres where the vaccination could be obtained and will continue to do so during the second phase.

Dr Nussaibah said that the DHA provided additional training for the 116 schools that have vaccine qualified clinics so that they can administer the polio vaccine. Training was also provided to all vaccine administrators at the DHA’s primary health care centres and Hatta Hospital.

She added that all other schools were told to notify parents to take their children to the nearest health centre to obtain the polio vaccine. She also said all nurseries are encouraged to tell parents about this free service.