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U.N., Syria Launch Campaign To Vaccinate 2.5 Children Against Polio

“The United Nations has announced that it will vaccinate 2.5 million children and eight million others in Syria to prevent a widespread outbreak of polio,” GlobalPost reports (Stainburn, 10/26). “As Syria awaits confirmation of suspected polio cases in the east of the country, UNICEF has joined the [WHO] and other partners in mounting a large-scale immunization effort aimed at protecting as many children as possible both in the country and across the region against polio, as well as other vaccine-preventable diseases,” UNICEF states in a press release (10/25). “At least 22 people — most of them babies and toddlers — are now believed to have contracted polio in Syria, the [WHO] has reported,” according to BBC News, which notes, “If confirmed, it would be the first outbreak of the disease there in 14 years” (10/25).

“Inside Syria, a campaign led by the Ministry of Health began on October 24,” CNN notes (Watkins/Alkhshali, 10/25). “The [WHO], working with UNICEF and other aid groups, has organized a plan to administer repeated oral doses of polio vaccine in concentric geographical circles, starting with children in Deir al-Zour and eventually reaching western Iraq, southern Turkey, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt,” according to the New York Times (Gladstone, 10/25). In addition, “Lebanon, which hosts more than 700,000 Syrian refugees, said on Friday it would vaccinate all children under five against polio after suspected cases of the crippling viral disease were found in neighboring Syria,” Reuters adds (Solomon, 10/25).