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Parents Using Fake Finger Markings To Prevent Administration Of Polio Vaccination

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Fake finger markings have emerged as another challenge to the campaign against the debilitating disease of polio.

Following the detection of a polio case in Kamach, an investigation was carried out by the National Rapid Response Unit, which revealed that people were using fake finger markings to prevent vaccination of their children.

The polio campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been particularly unsuccessful. IN 2017, only one case was reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a number that increased to eight in 2018 and 50 in 2019.

The prime reason for anti-polio sentiment is the influence of religious clerics who portray it as something un-Islamic. Cleric argue that the vaccine administered to children was part of family planning and hence a conspiracy against the Muslims.

A religious cleric, Tahir Altaf, in his comments to media said that there were numerous diseases in Pakistan but the government only focused on polio.

The propaganda is so strong that even educated people are influenced by it and refuse to have their children vaccinated. In a recent campaign, a family of a government officer had refused vaccination to their children.

A news report in Dawn cited a polio vaccinator as saying that 30 percent of the children were silent refusal cases; the parents pretend that their children have been vaccinated when in reality they have not been.

Following a detection of a polio case in Kamach Area, the National Rapid Response Unit carried out an investigation into the matter and issued a ‘mission report’ on the matter, which held the Expanded Programme on Immunisation responsible for the polio case.

The investigation revealed that all the children had received zero doses for routine vaccination, and a family had even prepared a fake vaccination card in Kamach. The report also mentioned that fake finger markings were found during the investigation. The report said that parents accompanied children to schools to have their fingers marked without being vaccinated.

Alpure Assistant Commissioner Fidaul Karim informed media that while monitoring the polio campaign, a fake finger marking was found whereby a family had stained their child’s finger with a marker.

Meanwhile, a local resident has said that he requested polio teams to mark the children’s fingers without the vaccination.

The problem of finger markings was also identified by the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on Polio Eradication in a recent report on August 29 on barriers to polio eradication.

Moreover, EPI District Coordinator Wajid Ali stated that they had warned teams against marking the fingers of children without administering the polio vaccine. He added that they had also asked the vaccinators to inform the supervisors about such cases.

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