Vaccination reminder after London polio case

PARENTS are being urged strongly to ensure their children get all their vaccinations, after polio was detected in a number of London sewer systems.

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30963681)
Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30963681)

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink said that the polio vaccine was given alongside other routine immunisations at four, 12 and 16 weeks , with boosters at three and 13 or14.

‘We are pleased to say that the uptake in Guernsey is good, with more than 95% of eligible children completing their final doses last year,’ she said.

Polio has been largely tackled by a world-wide vaccination programme. Case numbers have dropped by 99% since 1988 and it is now only endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But cases are still detected in other countries and the latest news was sparked from tests of sewage in London.

In the UK 92% of children get the vaccine, but it is lower in London, with 86%.

The virus in London was found in a number of samples over several months

It has been suggested that is came from someone who had recently received a live oral polio vaccine. They would then have shed a weakened vaccine virus in their stools and it was likely passed on then. However no one has sought medical help.

Most people who get polio do not get symptoms, but a small number of people suffer muscle paralysis, which can affect people’s legs or their breathing.

Guernsey investigated doing sewage surveillance locally during Covid, but it was not used.

Dr Brink said it was a tool that could be deployed if it is needed.

‘We currently use a number of ways to monitor infections on the island, including using information from primary care and our hospital services and reports of notifiable infections and diseases,’ she said.

‘The Bailiwick is committed to global polio eradication and key to achieving this is maintaining high vaccine coverage (above 95%) in the routine childhood immunisation programme

‘It is encouraging that our local coverage is in excess of 95%. However, in view of the emerging situation in London I would strongly advise parents to ensure that their children are up to date with their polio vaccinations, particularly if you are travelling to the UK and beyond.

‘More broadly, we would also strongly recommend that all parents take up the offer of all routine childhood vaccinations.'

Parents unsure of their children's vaccination status or who know they have not been vaccinated should contact their GP.

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