Stories about vaccination

Polio vaccine: Is it really as safe as it is claimed to be?

Reporting on polio vaccination has secured a regular slot in major media outlets. The reporting is mostly always supportive of the vaccination campaign commonly called “polio eradication”. But is the Oral Polio Vaccine( OPV), or Sabin vaccine (named after Albert Sabin), which is administered to millions of children in the developing world, really safe? Does it have no harmful effect on human health a claimed by some doctor in a recent story? The short answer is: no, it’s not completely safe. Not only can it cause permanent disability in some children, it actually has caused epidemics of paralysis in at least two countries ...

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Birth, confusing and perplexing, birth

The August night was frightening, confusing, perplexing. Hot, humid and sweaty… The room was pleasant, comfortable, properly lit and professionally decorated in muted, soothing hues of beige, gold and taupe. Tapestries artfully draped, artefacts tastefully displayed; everything oozed style and grace. The effortless elegance and oomph of old money inherited through generations, mere mortals can only think, or write about. A room, about to witness the first birth… The loudest, metropolitan city of the land of the pure was in complete darkness, thanks to power outage. Energy crisis was at its peak and on that particular night, the shortfall in electricity production was more than many thousand mega-watts. She whimpered in pain ...

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The curse of the green passport

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently recommended travel restrictions on Pakistanis travelling abroad to prevent the spread of the polio virus, as Pakistan continues to be one of the few remaining countries where polio is still considered a threat. This aforementioned restrictions seem to be a last ditch effort by the public health agency to curb the spread of the virus from a country that has been unable to run a sustained inoculation campaign due to a variety of reasons which are better left unsaid. However, what I am concerned about more is the effect that these travel restrictions will have on Pakistani travellers who are already ...

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Madiha’s unfinished ibaadat

“Why do you do this work, beti? What do you get out of going door to door telling suspicious families to vaccinate their noisy, crying kids?” Rukhsana bibi never understood why her daughter was so ready to give up her weekends for work that barely covered her bus fare. “Ma, sawab hai. If I can convince them to vaccinate their kids, it might save them so much grief later. Look at Bilquis apa next door. If someone had started this work of God earlier, she might be able to walk properly today, be as active as you or me. Plus, it makes me ...

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Another polio worker killed: Will we ever kick the disease?

Despite some gains, the fight against polio is facing mammoth challenges in the form of refusals by parents to vaccinate their children and the ban imposed by militant groups on polio vaccination campaigns. Sharafata, a female polio worker was killed in Peshawar yesterday, after she and her team were shot at by two gunmen on a motorcycle. Her team member Sumbal is in a critical condition. The Afghan Taliban recently announced that they would support polio vaccinations, but warned foreigners not to participate in the campaigns. The insurgents said they supported all programmes “which work for the healthcare of the helpless people ...

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Beat polio even if you have to “eat grass”

The casualties in our seemingly endless war on Polio were once limited to the sufferers of the disease itself. If the recent martyrdom of six vaccination workers in Karachi and Peshawar is any indication, this war is only getting bloodier and more terrifying by the day. In 1991, when El Salvador was engulfed by a brutal civil war, a cease-fire was arranged between the guerilla groups and the government to allow free mobility to the polio vaccination teams in the country. Two sides, locked in a savage conflict for ten years, had enough wits to acknowledge that their political and ...

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From brainwashing to target killing

On Tuesday, target killing incidents in Karachi and Peshawar halted the anti-polio drive in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It didn’t end there, as Wednesday saw another attack on a polio health worker. The victims’ ‘felony’  immunising children against polio. While extremists might deem them as ‘traitors’, I think these health workers are martyrs. To the great contentment of extremists who have opposed the anti-polio drive for years now, no children will be immunised against polio in Karachi and Peshawar at least during this drive.  These hostile elements were probably encouraged by Dr Shakil Afridi’s confession of involvement in espionage using a ...

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Be fair to your pets and vaccinate them

My father has always said to me, Alizeh, if a person can learn to love a human being the way a dog loves it’s master – so truly and unconditionally – the world would be a happier place.  Truer words could not have been spoken. As far back as I can remember, there hasn’t been one day when I have left my house without returning to a familiar, constantly wagging tail, or a wet lick to my hand. As far as my memory serves, I have known many Rexys, Maggies, and even a blind Tommy. Then for a few months, there was Brandy. Having ...

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Polio vaccinations in the dark ages

Pakistani children have it rough. They grow up in a country with a corrupt and incompetent government at the helm. They are inheriting a faltering economy and mountainous debt. The country isn’t as safe as it used to be, to put it mildly, and it doesn’t look like things will be improving soon. To top it all of, rising crime rates, extortion, political violence and terrorism are now the accepted norm as well. They can’t look forward to a proper healthcare system to take care of them when they are ill, nor can they expect a decent public education to be ...

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Polio peace

On June 16, the Taliban shura in North Waziristan Agency, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, banned polio drops. Then, in the south, a Maulvi Nazir-led shura also banned polio vaccinations until drone strikes in the south and north are stopped. A source in the FATA secretariat health department said that thousands of children will be affected by this decision and the world media condemns it. The agency’s administration there has started negotiations with tribal elders. It has threatened to arrest them and stop all developmental work in response. A tribal elder said that the ban was imposed by the Taliban ...

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