TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

Pakistani police called to aid in polio vaccinations

Health workers in Pakistan have called on police to help administer the polio vaccine to children whose parents refuse the immunization on religious grounds.

Islamabad recently drafted legislation to make the polio vaccination compulsory and to punish those who spread false rumors about the reasons for its use. Multiple Islamic clerics have come out against vaccination programs, saying they are being used as a front for the CIA, according to the Telegraph.

Doctors in one region of the Punjab called in police help to administer the vaccine to several families in Dera Ghazi Khan who refused the vaccine because of their religious beliefs. The families were members of a conservative Salafi group called the Ahle Hadith sect, according to Dr. Musa Kaleem, a district health officer.

"About 20 children refused the vaccine yesterday. We called in social organizations, religious leaders and the district police officer also sent police to help as well," Kaleem said, the Telegraph reports. "Today we got them all vaccinated, most by persuasion but in the case of three or four the police had to force them to take the vaccine."

Pakistan could face harsh travel restrictions if more is not done to help eliminate the crippling childhood disease, but several militant commanders have issued bans against polio workers. Last week, eradication efforts were disrupted when a polio worker was shot dead in Karachi.