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National immunization campaign for the eradication of Poliomyelitis, Saudi Arabia, Nov and Dec 1996

The member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) have resolved to eradicate poliomyelitis by the year 2000. National Immunization Days (NIDs) have proved to be successful strategies in this effort.
Saudi Arabia completed its first NID in November 1995 and second in November and December 1996, simultaneously with NIDs in other Gulf states. To ensure a successful second NID in Saudi Arabia, the campaign was under the direct supervision of their highnesses, princes of the regions. The target population (all children under 5 years of age) was estimated and the amount of vaccine needed and its delivery to all regions in the Kingdom was organized. To promote the NIDs, several methods were used. The telephone department used billing records to ask customers to bring their children for vaccinations. Radio, TV, and newspapers were used to inform the public about the importance of NIDs. Posters were made and distributed. Meetings were held with poliomyelitis campaign coordinators and representatives of governmental and private sectors.
The first OPV dose was given over three days beginning on 9 November in all 20 regions in KSA under instruction of their highnesses, the princes. Of 2048129 targeted children 95% (1,945,634) received the first dose and 97% (1,990,325) received the second (Dec. 7-9, 1996)

Editorial note:

From 1988, when the World Health Assembly announced the goal of global poliomyelitis eradication, the number of poliomyelitis cases reported to World Health Organization (WHO) has decreased by 82% The successful implementation of NIDs is an important factor in this decrease[1].
NID are nationwide mass campaigns to deliver supplemental doses of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) over a short time. WHO recommends that NIDs target children under five years of age and be conducted over as short a time as possible, preferably 1-2 days, during two rounds, 4-6 weeks apart during the season of low poliovirus transmission. The main purpose of NIDs is to rapidly boost systemic and intestinal immunity in the entire population over a wide area. Wild polioviruses will then have no suitable host in which to multiply and will cease to circulate[2]. Other strategies are, strong routine immunization programs, "mop-up" campaigns, and acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance. For those who are interested, a special supplement of the Journal of Infectious Diseases (Volume 75, supplement February, 1997) covers many aspects of the Global Poliomyelitis eradication initiative including NIDs.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Progress towards global eradication of poliomyelitis 1995. MMWR 1996; 45:565-8.
  2. Birmingham ME, Aylward RB, Cochi SL, Hull HF. National immunization days: the state of art. J. Infect Dis 1997; 175 (Suppl 1): S183-8.