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Myth or Reality: Polio Vaccination Controversies and Counter-Strategies in Pakistan

Arif Ahmad, Farasat Rasool and Fatima Hamid


Published: 2022/03/01


Polio is transmitted mainly through the fecal-oral route, contact, or contaminated water and food. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the two remaining countries where polio is still categorized as an endemic viral infection. The Pakistan polio eradication program has been fighting poliovirus spread for over 25 years. Despite over 100 rounds of vaccination campaigns, Pakistan still has the world's highest number of polio cases due to several reasons such as the prevalence of skepticism, dependence on vaccines produced in Western countries, threats and propaganda by militant groups, low literacy in rural areas, and rumors that these vaccines are prepared from pig fat or contain alcohol, two things that are forbidden in Islam. This paper highlights the prevailing myths about polio vaccination and counter-strategies adopted by the government of Pakistan. The researchers selected the top two social media platforms in Pakistan, Facebook and YouTube, for data collection. They analyzed these social media and other research content for the preceding five years. The results highlight the prevailing myths, controversies, and conspiracy theories about polio vaccination due to which people avoid taking the free vaccine. This research also highlights the counter-strategies of the government against these controversies. The researchers conclude that the government strategies to counter these myths are not sufficient. The planners need to counter the prevailing misinformation about polio vaccination with a holistic approach. Key Words: Vaccination, Pakistan, Polio, Conspiracies, Myths, Misinformation

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