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Health Workers Begin Polio Vaccination Drive in Afghanistan

Health workers in Afghanistan have launched a program to vaccinate children against polio in regions plagued by insurgent violence.

United Nations and Afghan government personnel began administering vaccines Wednesday to children in parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan.

The three-day polio immunization drive will continue until Friday, September 21, which the U.N. has designated as an International Day of Peace. The U.N. has encouraged Afghan people to mark the day by holding events urging peace.

The French news agency AFP quotes Roshan Khadivi, a spokesman for the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, as saying vaccination teams hope to reach 1.3 million Afghan children.

The UNICEF spokesman says health workers will visit areas that were missed by previous polio vaccination campaigns because of a lack of security. She says Afghan community leaders have agreed to support the campaign.

The U.N. says Afghanistan is one of only four countries, along with India, Nigeria and Pakistan that still suffer endemic polio, an acute viral disease that can cause paralysis.

The U.N. says five Afghan children have been paralyzed by polio in recent weeks.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.