Punjab Health Minister D. Yasmin Rashid appealed to the media to create awareness on preventive public health intervention especially vaccination here on Saturday. In her address as chief guest at a seminar on “Role and Responsibility of Media in Measles Rubella Catch up Campaign 2021” at a local hotel, the Health Minister said that Vaccination was the most cost effective preventive intervention in public health. Prevention, she added, was always better than cure. The event was organized by the Expanded Program on Immunization with unicef support. Present in the seminar were Director Expanded Program on Immunization Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Awan, Director CDC Dr. Shahid Magsi, Unicef Health Specialist Dr. Tahir Manzoor, Unicef consultant Dr. Saeed Akhtar, WHO Technical Officer Dr. Nauman Khan, Technical Focal Person BMGF Dr. Naeem Majeed, health reporters and officials of the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department. In her address, the Health Minister said, “Pakistan is going to organize the history’s largest vaccination campaign for children from November 15 to 27. More than 46.6 million children of 9 months to 15 years of age shall be vaccinated with daily target of over 3.7 million children per day. Press is known as the fourth pillar of the state and it plays a pivotal role in raising awareness on health issues. I appreciate the EPI Program for engaging the media and I am thankful to Unicef for supporting the government during this campaign. Until the advent of vaccination, Corona Pandemic had played havoc, setting off the largest ever lockdown on the planet. However, since the introduction of the vaccines, life has started returning to normal. Only in Punjab, unvaccinated people constitute more than 85% of new COVID-19 hospital admissions.”
Elaborating the importance of vaccination, the Health Minister further said, “We saw a significant decline in positivity ratio in areas having high vaccination coverage. Measles and Rubella can be fatal and during my career as a doctor, I have witnessed Rubella causing lifelong complications among mothers and children. The MR vaccine was available in the private sector, yet it was expensive and only affluent people could afford it. Now we will be providing this vaccine to people free of cost. In Punjab more than 52% people have received at least a single dose vaccine. The Reach Every Door is underway across the province. The government is fully focused on prevention and we are taking fundamental steps to safeguard children’s lives through immunization. Our children are the future of Pakistan. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, we are taking revolutionary steps to improve the healthcare system in Punjab.” In his speech, Director EPI Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed explained the measles and rubella related complications and the shared background data for the introduction of the vaccine. Unicef Health Specialist Dr. Tahir Manzoor said that vaccines are introduced after a long series of trials and approvals. In rare cases, some people might show mild symptoms. He said experts’ opinions must be sought before reporting such cases. WHO technical officer Dr. Nauman Khan said that the WHO had provided training to staff at provincial, district and UC level for any Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI).