Parents could encounter fines and jail time for rejecting children’s vaccinations

Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori has officially signed the Sindh Immunization and Epidemics Control Bill 2023 into law. This legislation is aimed at enforcing penalties, including fines and potential imprisonment, for parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated.

According to the provisions of this law, the respective deputy commissioner (DC) has been granted the authority to levy penalties as outlined in Section (1). Parents found guilty of this offense may be subject to a one-month jail term and fines amounting to Rs50,000.

In February, it was reported that during the nationwide polio vaccination campaign held from January 2nd to 29th, over 62,000 parents refused to have their children vaccinated against polio.

The anti-polio campaign, conducted in January in three phases, saw a significant number of parents declining the polio vaccine for their children. Among these refusals, the majority were from Sindh, where 37,008 parents declined the vaccine. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 20,305 parents refused the vaccine, while in Balochistan, 4,902 parents, in Islamabad, 141 families, and in Punjab, 36 parents declined vaccination for their children.

Further details indicated that in Karachi East, 2.4 percent of parents refused the vaccine, while in Korangi district, it was 1.2 percent, Karachi South at 1.1 percent, Keamari district at 1.3 percent, Karachi Central at 1.7 percent, and Malir district at 0.9 percent. In Hyderabad district, 0.2 percent of families refused to have their children vaccinated against polio.

These figures highlight the challenges faced in achieving widespread polio vaccination coverage in certain regions of Pakistan.