World Polio Day is observed every year on October 24, by Rotary International to earmark the birth anniversary of the famous virologist Jonas Salk, who discovered the polio vaccine in the year 1955. This day focuses to spread awareness about poliomyelitis, its preventive measures and embark activities to eliminate this disabling condition, worldwide.
The use of inactivated poliovirus vaccine and succeeding use of live oral poliovirus led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988, by Rotary and also coordinated with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF had remarkably reduced the incidence of polio globally by 99%. This year’s theme is Stories of Progress: Past and Present, which highlights to recognize the progress made so far in the struggle of eradicating this debilitating condition and to support the efforts of each and every individual involved in the process.
Polio is a crippling and lethal infectious disease caused by poliovirus, which is also called infantile paralysis. It is transmitted by ingesting contaminated food, water containing faecal matter which carries the deadly virus. An infected person can spread the disease to a healthy individual even after days or month of being infected by polio, as symptoms do not show up immediately.
There is no cure, however, safe and effective vaccines are available. Immunization is the best way to prevent polio. Polio vaccine, given several times, almost safeguards a child for life. The key approach to eradicate polio is to prevent infection by immunizing every single child until transmission stops and the entire world is polio-free.
Polio Status In India
India received polio-free certification together with South-East Asia Region of WHO on 27 March 2014. Since then no wild poliovirus cases have been detected in India and our country is no longer a polio-endemic country as per the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) of WHO.
This milestone was once considered the hardest task, as, until 2009, India was deliberated as one of the most difficult places in the world to eradicate polio. However, with strong surveillance systems, extensive vaccination programs and well-targeted social efforts, this fatal disease is currently eradicated in India.
Role Of Vaccines
There are two types of vaccines that work effectively against poliovirus, namely inactivated poliovirus (IPV) and oral poliovirus (OPV).
The injectable inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), offers protection for almost all children who get vaccinated with the recommended four doses, (99 out of 100). While the oral OPV is provided during the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) of India, this offers low protection less than 90%, but delivers better protection for the entire community, owing to its gut immune-boosting profile. This vaccine works by breaking the spreading of disease from an infected person to another, thereby plays an incredible role in making India Polio-free by Pulse Polio Immunization program.
However, for Indian children to be 100% free from polio, IPV has to be developed as the principal vaccine in the regular immunization program.
Polio Vaccine Recommendation:
As per the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, vaccination guidelines recommends that children should get four doses of IOPV at 6 months, 10 months, 14 weeks and 18-24 months. Furthermore, OPV is to be administered orally at birth, 6 months, 9 months and between 4-6 years of age.
How Does Polio Vaccines Work?
Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)
The OPV comprises of a mixture of live attenuated strains of polioviruses of three different serotypes. These viruses mimic the action of immune stimuli of the actual polioviruses, but with a lowered effect to spread and affect the central nervous system. After the administration of the vaccines, the body makes antibodies to combat against these viruses. When a person gets infected, the antibodies are already present in the system and avert the progression of the infection. This vaccine also triggers a local immune response in the lining of the gut mucosal membrane which is considered as the main site for the proliferation of poliovirus.
Inactivated poliovirus (IPV)
Inactivated poliovirus vaccine is made from wild-type poliovirus strains or two-three serotypes that have been inactivated with use of formalin. This vaccine is available in the form of an injection and can be administered in combination with other vaccines as well.
Polio is eradicated from India, however, the risk of importation still prevails from three countries Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria where poliovirus still exists. Since polio has no cure, the best possible way to stop its spread is to immunise the children at the earliest. Ensure that you safeguard your child’s life by delivering the vaccination on time and be a responsible citizen do your part in lowering the risk of this fatal infection. Remember a single child being infected can put kids across the world at risk.