UK launches urgent polio vaccine rollout for London children under 10

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Britain is rolling out emergency polio vaccinations for all children under the age of 10 living in London as the re-emergence of the virus across the UK, US and Israel raises fears of a wider outbreak. .

The vaccination campaign aims to provide “a high level of protection from paralysis” and limit further spread of the virus, UK health authorities said on Wednesday.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, epidemiologist at UK Health Security, said: “All children aged 1 to 9 in London need to get a dose of polio vaccine now – whether Is it an extra booster or just to catch up with their usual vaccinations.” , speak.

“It will ensure a high level of protection from paralysis. This can also help prevent the virus from spreading further,” she added.

Healthcare staff will be contacting parents and carers in their affected areas to schedule an appointment for their child to receive inactivated polio vaccine, with an expected number of up to one million children will be vaccinated.

An awakening

Authorities investigating increased virus trail

Polio is a rare but highly contagious virus that can sometimes cause serious illness, such as paralysis, in people who are not fully vaccinated.

No cases of polio have been detected in the UK since the disease was ruled out in 2003 following a widespread vaccination campaign, and health officials say the risk for the majority of people Fully vaccinated remains low.

However, the British authorities declared a national incident in June after traces of the virus were detected in sewage samples in several London boroughs.

Routine wastewater monitoring in the UK usually detects traces of the virus once or twice a year, often from individuals who have been vaccinated against polio live abroad rather than the dead version used. in the UK.

But since February 2022, 116 samples of poliovirus type 2 have been detected in samples in eight London boroughs north and east of the capital.

UKHSA said genetic analysis of the samples showed the spread had now “been beyond a tight network of a few individuals” and may be spreading in the community. While most samples were found to be a safe form of the polio vaccine, “a few” have mutated enough to be dangerous, it added.

Health officials are now ramping up wastewater surveillance across the country and investigating links between UK samples and cases recently detected in the US and Jerusalem, Israel.

Dr Kathleen O’Reilly, associate professor of infectious disease statistics, said: “Further investigation is needed to fully understand how they are connected, but it demonstrates that this virus is capable of cause disease, especially in poorly immunized communities”. specialist in polio eradication, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

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