Exploring knowledge and perceptions of polio disease and its immunization in polio high-risk areas of Pakistan
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Pakistan is one of the few countries where poliovirus transmission still persists, despite intensive efforts to eradicate the disease. Adequate vaccination coverage is essential to achieve polio eradication, but misconceptions about polio vaccines have hindered vaccination efforts. To address this issue, we conducted a mixed-methods study to explore knowledge and perceptions regarding polio disease and immunization in high-risk areas of Pakistan. We collected quantitative data from 3780, 1258, and 2100 households in Karachi, Bajaur, and Pishin, respectively, and supplemented this with qualitative data from focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. Our findings reveal a high level of awareness about polio and its immunization; however, misperceptions about the polio vaccine persist, leading to refusal for both polio vaccines and routine immunizations. Our study provides up-to-date data on knowledge and perceptions of polio and its immunization and identifies critical gaps. These findings can inform the development of future strategies and innovative approaches to improve the success of the polio program in Pakistan.