We continue to combat an adversary that is more sneaky than we imagine, as seen by the comeback of polio cases in nations that haven’t seen the virus in a while and transmission in those that do. Even though diseases don’t care who they affect, polio is more likely to spread to children under the age of five. Serious health effects from poliomyelitis include paralysis and death.
Thanks to the tireless work of several stakeholders and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), polio is currently a disease that is curable with a vaccine. Millions of kids throughout the globe have benefited from polio immunizations, and wild poliovirus incidences have declined by more than 99% since 1988.
Every year on October 24, Future Polio Day is observed. It’s time to say again how important it is to get rid of polio so that our children can live in a safer, more sustainable, and healthier world.
Challenges hindering a polio-free world
Even though the return of polio is scary, it shows how problems can arise when there are gaps in vaccinations. Children were less likely to get pediatric immunizations as a result of COVID-19 and local disputes. Millions of kids worldwide have been labeled “dose zero”—kids who haven’t had even one dose of a standard vaccination—after infrastructure losses.
Concerns remain about children who aren’t fully immunized or who don’t have access to the right medical care. The hazards are substantially greater for people who are “zero doses.” Polio eradication is at a critical point, and if people stop getting vaccinated, it could be disastrous for public health.
To stop the drop in the number of children getting vaccinated, we need a consistent implementation plan that puts an emphasis on prevention and guarantees good results. All communities must be included in the construction of comprehensive plans and policies. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has started a new approach to allow polio eradication, with the goal of completing it by 2026.
Polio Eradication Strategies
The current focus should be on increasing public awareness and getting zero-dosage vaccines to youngsters. To meet new needs, we need to keep making improvements to our infrastructure and keep vaccinating as part of basic health care. Programs and resources for the COVID-19 vaccine stand out, and it’s crucial to continue the momentum with polio vaccination.
The Advisory Committee on Vaccinations and Immunization Practices of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP ACVIP) says that the oral polio vaccine (OPV) should be given at birth, followed by a series of completely inactivated polio vaccines (IPV) at 6–10–14 weeks and an IPV booster at 6–10–14 weeks. 16 to 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years old for a preschool booster. To complete the circle of protection, we must get all recommended doses of the polio vaccine.
Polio may need to be planned for and worked on as a team to make sure it doesn’t come back after it has been wiped out. Despite the fact that numerous global health initiatives have successfully included polio immunization, even isolated occurrences might cause anxiety.
If even one individual has the poliovirus, the whole community will be in danger. Let’s pledge to create a healthy future for our children this World Polio Day.
The author works for Sanofi as the General Manager of Vaccines. Opinions are subjective.