Polio vaccination campaign reaches nearly 19 million children in Indonesia

A massive polio vaccination campaign reached nearly 19 million children, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the Ministry of Health, which said the number could rise following door-to-door searches for youngsters who were missed.

The figure represents 75 percent of the 24 million children under 5 targeted by the nationwide campaign, considered a crucial step in halting the spread of the crippling disease that has sickened 229 people since it reappeared in Indonesia six months ago.

I. Nyoman Kandun, who is heading the government's polio campaign, said 18.9 million children had received the vaccine based on figures from 29 of the 33 provinces. He said the final figures will not be known until at least next week when health workers complete their door-to-door immunization drive.

"It's good news and I expect that we will reach 90 percent," Kandun said. "The campaign was very good so we are expecting similar results in the second round. We'll even be more aggressive in the second round."

The Indonesian government pulled out all stops to promote the campaign, in the wake of reports that nearly a 1 million children were missed during a June immunization drive. Many parents were scared off by unfounded rumors which continue to circulate that the vaccine caused the death of four children earlier this year and violates Islamic law, reports the AP.

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