Vaccine Boost: Taliban Okays Polio Jabs

The long slog of polio eradication got a boost yesterday as the new Taliban government in Afghanistan okayed resumption of a house-to-house vaccination campaign.

The Taliban’s greenlight means 3.3 million children who were out of reach of vaccinators may now be vaccinated, Science reports.

History: Just 1 of 2 countries where the wild poliovirus still thrives, Afghanistan hasn’t had a true nationwide polio vaccination campaign since 2018 when the Taliban banned house-to-house vaccination in areas it controlled in the country’s south. (The Taliban suspected the vaccinators were helping to target US drone strikes.)

85% of Afghanistan’s polio cases since then have occurred in areas that were off limits to vaccinators.

Crucial time: Just 1 case of wild poliovirus has been reported this year, UNICEF reported, making for an “extraordinary opportunity” to eliminate polio in the country, according to The Washington Post.

But: Vaccination teams in Afghanistan’s hinterlands may run into local Taliban leaders with different ideas than the government in Kabul, the University of Geneva’s Karl Blanchet warned.

More jabs: The Taliban has also recently approved vaccine campaigns against measles and the coronavirus.

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