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 remarkably reduced the incidence of polio globally by 99%. This year’s theme is Stories of Progress: Past and Present, which highlights recognizing the progress made so far in the struggle of eradicating this debilitating condition and supporting the efforts of each and every individual involved in the process.
This theme for the year 2022 is “World Polio Day 2022 and Beyond: A healthier future for mothers and children.” The theme insists to recognise the progress made so far in the fight to eradicate polio in children and how will they continue to work to give a better and healthier future for mothers and children. The health campaign emphasizes the value of strategizing on the investments already made in polio eradication and broadening the immunization program. The event works to ensure that those children who had been saved from polio and their mothers from other vaccine-preventable diseases will be able to benefit from other associated preventive and life-protecting services. Thereby supporting mothers to have a positive experience of their pregnancy and young children to achieve their full growth and development.
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 months 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. The Polio vaccine, given several times, almost safeguards a child for life. The key approach to eradicating 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.
Facts About Polio
Children are mostly affected: Yes, poliomyelitis mainly affects children under the age of five.
Paralysis is irreversible: 1 in 200 polio attacks results in permanent paralysis and further, when their respiratory muscles are involved, about 5 % to 10% of paralyzed people die.
Continuous monitoring and immunization: In many countries, the global effort has extended abilities to handle other infectious diseases by developing effective monitoring and immunization programs.
One is far too many: Polio can readily spread across the world, even if there is a single patient who is still carrying the infection.
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 recommend 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 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 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 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 the 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 immunize 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.