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No Cause for Panic Over Polio Vaccine: IAP, Government

To dispel the scare around polio vaccines in the community after a Ghaziabad-based vaccine maker was pulled up for contamination, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) and the Center have issued advisories saying there is no reason to panic and immunization of children against polio should be continued.

The scare

The controversy erupted after vaccine strains of Type-2 polio virus (P2) were found in stool samples of two children in Uttar Pradesh and a sewage sample in Mumbai. P2 was eradicated globally in 1999, and the oral vaccine containing the P2 strain was stopped in April 2016. Thus, finding the P2 vaccine virus surprised health authorities. Investigations revealed that a few vials of bivalent oral polio vaccine manufactured by Bio-Med, which should contain only P1 and P3 strain, had traces of P2. “But the fact remains that children were vaccinated for P2 till April 2016 and the vaccination continues even now in the form of IPV, which immunizes them against all the three strains of polio virus: P1, P2 and P3. There is nothing to fear at all,” Dr Bela Verma, president of Mumbai IAP and head of pediatrics at the State-run JJ Hospital, said.

The IAP’s Advisory Committee on Vaccination and Immunization Practices has said that population immunity against Type-2 polio virus is robust and the unlikely event of spread of Type-2 polio virus in the community can hardly cause any harm. The Center’s advisory reiterates this. “Polio vaccines are absolutely safe and have saved millions of children from the disabling effects of polio. All parents must get their children vaccinated to provide protection against polio. Government of India in consultation with World Health Organization has taken all measures to ensure that all vaccines used under the program are totally safe and effective,” it said.

Special drive

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, meanwhile, will start a week-long special immunization drive in four wards on Monday. “We will cover L, M East, K East and S wards. Our field workers will reach out to all children who may have missed any routine doses,” assistant health officer Dr Chandrashekar Chiplunkar said. He said the BMC will reach out to more than 1000 children during the week. – The Hindu