India remains polio free, all vaccines used in Government immunisation programme safe: UNICEF, WHO
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) have reiterated India’s status as polio-free country. This comes in backdrop of some oral polio vaccine vials being found contaminated with the type-2 polio virus.
The two global agencies held that risk of children getting vaccine derived poliovirus was minimal in India because of high routine immunisation coverage in the country. They also asserted that all vaccines provided under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) are safe and urged people to get their children vaccinated not only for their protection but also to keep Indian polio free.
Type 2 poliovirus containing vaccine has been phased out globally, and in India, in April 2016, as a part of the polio endgame strategy. Like in other countries, India also has replaced trivalent OPV oral polio vaccine (tOPV) with bivalent OPV (bOPV) in all polio campaigns and routine immunization. It also continues to conduct mass vaccination campaigns against polio, using bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), to maintain high immunity.
India was certified polio-free in March 2014 and it still continues to remain vigilant against all three types of polioviruses. The last polio case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on 13 January 2011. Recently, type 2 polio vaccine virus was found in some sewage and stool samples. It was from few vials of bOPV supplied by one manufacturer in India which were found to contain traces of Type 2 polio vaccine virus. After that Health Ministry had taken immediate and decisive action withdrawing vaccine supplied by this manufacturer from all states that it was supplied to.
Polio (Poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children below age of 5. It is transmitted from person-to-person. It mainly spreads through faecal-oral route (e.g. contaminated water or food). After entering body, it multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis. Its initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in limbs. In some cases, it causes permanent paralysis. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.