According to the latest information from UN authorities dated June 19, seventeen cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type-2 (cVDPV2) have now been confirmed in Syria—16 cases are from Mayadeen district, Deir Ez-Zor governorate, and 1 case from Raqqa district, Raqqa governorate.

Syria Image/CIA

The most recent case had onset of paralysis on May 23.

The total number of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases detected in Deir Ez-Zor governorate since the beginning of 2017 is 65 (54 from Mayadeen; 6 from Deir Ez-Zor and 5 from Boukamal). Raqqa governorate has reported 10 AFP cases (5 each from Raqqa and Talabyad) since the beginning of the year.

The Syrian Ministry of Health together with WHO, UNICEF and other health actors are planning to conduct two immunization rounds in Deir Ez-Zor with monovalent oral polio vaccine type-2 (mOPV2), targeting 328,000 children under five years of age. Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) will be used in the second round targeting 114,500 children aged between 2-24 months.

In addition, messages on vaccines and the immunization campaign have been prepared based on field reports from Deir Ez-Zor and shared with MoH. A total 80,000 brochures and 12,000 posters have been printed. Materials are being shipped to Deir Ez-Zor and will be shared with authorities on the ground before use in the field.

UNICEF with support of WHO is recruiting 250 social mobilizers and 55 influencers/leaders, to disseminate communications materials at household level. Megaphones will be used for campaign announcements. Activities are subject to approval by the authorities in field.

Officials expressed concerns about what a potential escalation in active conflict could do to vaccination plans such as inability to dispatch the vaccine to health facilities, inability to conduct house to house vaccination, compromised safety of vaccinators and/or vaccinators becoming unreachable, loss of mOPV2 vials and damage to cold chain and the inability to conduct necessary vaccinator training.

Vaccine refusal has been a considerable challenge in Deir Ez-Zor in the past. Some families are very reluctant to have their children vaccinated with IPV.