After a month of suspension, the Polio vaccine programme is set to return across the country, albeit with a number of changes. Reforms will be made to the operational structure of the polio programme, which includes reducing the number of visits and follow-ups by polio vaccination teams, eliminating the use of data registers and limiting the number of questions families are asked.

Time to deliberate and rethink our approach towards countering polio was needed, considering the backlash that occurred last month against polio vaccines. Due to fake reports and misinformation about the after-effects of the vaccine, local people in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa refused to get their children vaccinated, which had a spillover effect across the country. Despite all the reports being untrue, the government temporarily suspended the polio programme in view of polio workers’ safety, and in order to come up with reforms to tackle decades of misinformation and malicious maligning of the polio vaccine by bad-faith actors.

It is excellent that the drive is back on track, and the changes made make sense in context. Reducing the number of questions being asked to respondents can prevent those already paranoid about the vaccine from panicking and can dispel qualms about privacy. Fewer visits can protect polio workers and restore community trust. Emphasis on larger mediums through which the virus is spread, like sewage systems, will also help counter the virus more effectively and win popular support of the local community as well. Pakistan is one of the two countries of the world where poliovirus cases are still reported-our prerogative should be to limit the cases of polio in the most effective and swiftest way. Extraneous protocols can be discarded if the main objective of delivering the vaccine and ending the virus is achieved.