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WHO, UNICEF Launch Polio Vaccination Campaign Targeting 23M Children In Middle East

“The [WHO] and UNICEF have launched a massive polio vaccination campaign aimed at immunizing 23 million children in the Middle East after 17 cases were discovered in Syria, the agencies announced Monday,” Al Jazeera America reports. “It will be the largest-ever immunization response in the region, WHO and [UNICEF] said in a joint statement,” the news service writes (12/9). “The national immunization campaign … will take place until December 12, and again from January 12 to 16,” according to a UNICEF press release (12/9). “Vaccinators working to contain the outbreak must reach every child under the age of five in the seven countries in the region, an already complex task made that much more difficult by the civil war raging in Syria,” VOA News notes, adding, “The first round of vaccinations last month reached more than two million Syrian children, according to UNICEF spokeswoman Juliette Touma” (Baragona, 12/10). “The total cost to UNICEF and WHO of supporting the seven-country polio response from November through April is US$ 39 million, based on a strategic plan developed for the Middle East,” a WHO press release states (12/9).