ISLAMABAD: After a vicious social media campaign against the polio vaccine was launched, Facebook blocked up to 31 accounts / pages involved in propaganda against vaccination in Pakistan at the request of the government polio program.
On Monday, rumors circulated on social networks that a one-year-old girl had died in Swabi due to the polio vaccine.
“The print and electronic media showed responsibility and decided to wait until they received the autopsy report of the deceased. However, an organized campaign was launched on social networks in which the girl had died from the vaccine and people should not vaccinate their children, "said the Focal Person of the Prime Minister in Polio Babar Bin Atta while speaking with Sunrise.
“According to the autopsy report, the girl died from suffocation when a peanut got stuck in her throat. Right after receiving the report, we contacted Facebook and officially launched a campaign against the accounts that were involved in propaganda against the vaccine, "he said.
The measure comes after the death of a baby in Swabi caused rumors in social networks that it was caused by a vaccine.
Atta said that within an hour Facebook blocked all those accounts / pages so they would not continue their malicious campaign against the polio vaccine.
“We thank Facebook for cooperating with us. We have also trusted members of the polio team that they should share polio vaccine publications with those who hesitate to vaccinate their children because of the campaign, ”he said.
During the current year, 58 cases of polio have been confirmed in the country compared to 12 in 2018 and only eight in 2017. This year, up to 44 cases of polio have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its tribal districts, five from Punjab and Sindh and four cases of Balochistan.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus that primarily affects children under five. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this paralyzing disease. Every time a child under five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus increases. Repeated vaccination has protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost every country in the world to become free from polio.
There are only two countries in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio cases are reported. Pakistan remains under a travel restriction related to polio imposed by the World Health Organization because, since 2014, all Pakistanis traveling on board must carry a polio vaccination certificate.
Polio immunization campaigns have suffered due to a social media propaganda campaign that the vaccine is becoming a cause of a number of diseases and should not be given to children.
Published on Dawn, August 28, 2019