25 October 2013

UNICEF has joined the World Health Organisation and other partners in mounting a large-scale immunisation effort to protect Syrian children from polio and other diseases. The campaign follows reports of suspected polio cases in the east of Syria.

Inside Syria, a campaign led by the Ministry of Health began on 24 October targeting 2.4 million children with vaccines against polio, measles, mumps and rubella. 

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Around half a million children in Syria have not been vaccinated against polio in the past two years. Before the conflict, immunisation coverage in Syria was about 95%.

The conflict in Syria has forced millions of children to move, either inside the country or across borders into neighbouring countries and beyond.

As a result, routine immunisation systems so critical to preventing childhood diseases have been disrupted or broken down, and children are now at far higher risk of diseases such as polio and measles.

UNICEF is leading a huge supply operation to make sure that vaccines are in place across the region, and reaching out to partners to help raise community awareness of the importance of vaccinating children.

Multiple immunisation campaigns against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases will take place inside Syria and across the region from now until the end of the year.

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In Damascus, a young girl receives a polio vaccine during a UNICEF-supported immunisation campaign in 2012. © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1628/BASSEL HALABI
In Damascus, a young girl receives a polio vaccine during a UNICEF-supported polio and measles immunisation campaign in 2012.© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1628/BASSEL HALABI