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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Polio vaccination requirements catch Qatar-bound passengers off guard

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Packaging line for the oral polio vaccine.
Packaging line for the oral polio vaccine.

Several dozen passengers on a Qatar-bound flight from Pakistan were initially barred from entering the Gulf state last week because they were unable to prove they’d been vaccinated against polio, the Pakistan government has said.

While Qatar has not publicly commented on the incident at Hamad International Airport, a spokesperson from Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently addressed the issue in a press conference with reporters.

In a transcript published Thursday, the spokesperson said:

“Qatar has recently introduced these regulations vis-a-vis several countries including Pakistan. With the intervention of our Embassy in Doha and cooperation of concerned authorities of Qatar, all Pakistanis were allowed to enter Doha. The Embassy has also informed all concerned authorities that passengers travelling to Qatar should have polio vaccination certificates.”

Privately, a diplomatic source said the requirements have been in place since last year.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

He added that staff at Pakistan’s airports should have checked that the Qatar-bound passengers had the proper documentation before allowing them to board the plane.

The requirements affect all people who have spent a month or more in the country and not just Pakistani nationals.

On its website, the US embassy in Islamabad offered this advice last year:

“In order to exit Pakistan, everyone who has spent more than four weeks in Pakistan must receive a dose of either the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) or Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) between 4 weeks and 12 months prior to international travel, regardless of nationality or vaccination status prior to one year before departure date.”

Outbreak fears

Polio vaccination card
Polio vaccination card

Authorities in Pakistan have struggled to keep polio in check in recent years, with 306 cases reported in 2014 and 25 so far in 2015. Polio – which short for Poliomyelitis and is also known as infantile paralysis – is an incurable condition that often has no symptoms. It spreads through virus-infected feces and results in muscular degeneration, defects and paralysis.

Eradication efforts by the WHO have met with strong resistance from some armed organizations such as the Taliban, which has killed more than 60 vaccinators and banned anti-polio campaigns in areas under its de facto control since 2012.

Last year, the WHO urged Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon to increase efforts to vaccinate young children amid fears of renewed outbreaks. Speaking to the New York Times in 2014, WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl said:

“Things are going in the wrong direction and have to get back on track before something terrible happens, so we’re saying to the Pakistanis, the Syrians and the Cameroonians, ‘You’ve really got to get your acts together.’”

At the time, the WHO declared a global health emergency and imposed travel restrictions on Pakistan, Syria, and Cameron, encouraging all residents in those countries to be vaccinated prior to traveling abroad.

While the WHO has no power to enforce such measures, news organizations in Pakistan reported last November that travellers from the country faced restrictions when trying to leave the country without a vaccination certificate.

According to the WHO, Nigeria and Afghanistan also have continued endemic transmission, with the latter reporting its most recent case of paralysis caused by the disease last month.

Thoughts?

29 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Great move by Qatar, we don’t want to get this disease here. It can be eradicated but as we see the ignorant and brain dead in Pakistan have been attacking health workers. This just adds to the list of dead children in Pakistan killed by religious extremists, excepts it’s not bullets this time but denying them vaccinations.

Misha
Misha
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

If what Yacine said in his comment is true then the U.S is partly to blame, knowing full well this deception could ruin future vaccination efforts.
How can the Taliban trust that the healthworkers (possible spies in their eyes) aren’t trying to hurt their children?

I don’t agree with them killing people but I understand why they are skeptical of future campaigns.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Good to ban all Pakistanis from Qatar then, if that is the way they think

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  Misha

Shooting polio-workers was going on much before CIA used them to track OBL.

Zeit
Zeit
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Ironic how people who campaign against vaccinations are backward. Tell them to the people in US who have been fighting against compulsory vaccinations. Apparently there is no religion involved there. Since its a western white people campaign it will never be declared backward.

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago
Reply to  Zeit

Not really! Everyone knows US is full of stupid people, no thanks to their education system and economy. Their leaders are to blame for these actions but who’d be clueless enough to elect someone like George Bush as their leader! That man is thicker than the entire Mt. Rushmore! But yeah, parts of US is pretty backward.

Nuremburg
Nuremburg
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

This is true, and yes, the people who campaign against vaccines are completely backward, and no, the US and Pakistan are NOT the only countries where this happens. But, of course, no one can pass up an opportunity to berate America. Perhaps rightly so, but it’s important to keep in mind that many Islamists believe vaccines are haram because some have porcine derivatives. How’s that for backward?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Zeit

It is backward and I’m declaring it and you’re right it has nothing to do with religion.

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago

Can anyone shed some light why the Taliban doesn’t want polio vaccination? Is the Taliban office in Doha available for comment?

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

You want to know why? Because the U.S. used vaccinators as spies and informants to target Taliban leaders, and held a national fake polio vaccination campaign to track Bin Laden. They therefore no longer trust the polio people to be just doctors and nurses but also spies and traitors.

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Ok! that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

So they go round murdering them. Nice people.

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Gitmo was too good for them.

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Two points; 1) was the vaccine given out fake? 2) Traitor is subjective.

Blue
Blue
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Yup – first support an attack on US/UK forces and now this….. Guess you have to be kept on observation….

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Blue

So Americans use the doctors and nurses in their nasty schemes but then the Talibans are to blame? And by your logic the Afghani people are to blame for the invasion of their country? Guess you have to be sent back to school for re-education

Blue
Blue
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Re-reducation? :-/

I’ll pass – don’t want to be brain washed…..

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Blue

Yeak keep believing Americans are good and Muslims are evil…

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Now don’t you drag Muslims into this. The American strategists may be to blame but ISIS and the Taliban are not exactly role models for the Muslims.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

Nobody said that ISIS and the Taliban are role models, and we Muslims are fully aware that it is not with them that we will become developed. However we need to acknowledge that they are the result of US action in the region. And in this particular case, the reluctance of the Taliban to accept the vaccination campaign is solely motivated by the satanic plots that the US did using these campaigns. They paid the price before and they are not stupid to do the same thing again.

Michkey
Michkey
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Indeed! But that does not mean all the Americans are against all the Muslims. We have to be careful that we don’t choose the wrong path in protesting the ill-doings of some warmongers. 🙂

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

There was US action in Germany and Japan after WW II, look how that turned out.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Bajn

Yes, an action to rebuild both countries with massive investments, donations and loans. Are you inferring that Iraqis and Afghanis missed the opportunity to collect the billions of dollars dropped on them by American drones and other bombers?

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

The billions were received alright. It is unfair to compare real countries like Germany with the ME/AfPak.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

So why do Pakistan and other countries run their own vacination programs? Pakistan has enough money to build nuclear bombs, I’m sure they have enough to immunise their own kids.

Mayday
Mayday
6 years ago

Increase in sales. Let all the new born had the vaccine to lessen polio in their country.

CeePeeEm
CeePeeEm
6 years ago

Speaks volumes about a country if its government cannot ensure proper vaccinations to the new generation, whatever the reasons are……

HHH
HHH
6 years ago

MMH what do you know about pakistan, u have no idea whats going on there, its only a few bunch of idiot people who are against polio vaccination otherwise 80 population are supporting it so u cant say everyone is against it

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  HHH

Pakistan is a failed state and a big exporter of terrorism. It even exported nuclear technology to dangerous dictatorships!

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