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Why is it important to give pulse polio drops?

Saturday, 22 March 2003
Answered by: Satish Saluja
Consultant Neonatologist,
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,
New Delhi
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Q. Why is it important to give pulse polio drops to children under 5 years when the child has already been administered the polio vaccine as per the recommended schedule? The oral vaccine is having more risk compared to the injectable vaccine. Why should I subject my kid to additional risk by giving these extra doses of OPV? What is the principle behind administering the vaccine simultaneously all over the country? What is this issue of replacing the wild strain? I have not given the vaccine in Jan/Feb 03 as announced in the drive, what should I do?

A.  Your question is very valid that if your baby has received the routine vaccination why give pulse polio! Even though your child is vaccinated and has his personal protection, he can still harbour the disease causing virus which is called the Wild virus in the intestines. This Wild virus keeps getting excreted in the stools and is a risk for polio to the unvaccinated children in the community. This Wild virus cannot survive in the atmosphere for long. When the oral polio virus is given it does not allow the Wild virus to live in the intestines and expels them out. It has been observed that Wild virus only lives in the intestines of babies below 5 years of age. So it seems logical that if all babies below 5 yrs of age are given oral polio vaccine simultaneously it helps to eradicate the wild polio virus as I have already said that the wild virus cannot survive in atmosphere. Regarding safety of oral vaccine - it is quite safe and the risk of having problems as compared to injectable is negligible. This programme of pulse polio is being run all over the country to eradicate polio from the country. Similar practice has been able to eradicate polio from many other countries in the world. By not giving pulse polio to your otherwise vaccinated child we are being selfish, doing a disservice to our country and not helping to eradicate polio from the country.

A.  Your question is very valid that if your baby has received the routine vaccination why give pulse polio! Even though your child is vaccinated and has his personal protection, he can still harbour the disease causing virus which is called the Wild virus in the intestines. This Wild virus keeps getting excreted in the stools and is a risk for polio to the unvaccinated children in the community. This Wild virus cannot survive in the atmosphere for long. When the oral polio virus is given it does not allow the Wild virus to live in the intestines and expels them out. It has been observed that Wild virus only lives in the intestines of babies below 5 years of age. So it seems logical that if all babies below 5 yrs of age are given oral polio vaccine simultaneously it helps to eradicate the wild polio virus as I have already said that the wild virus cannot survive in atmosphere. Regarding safety of oral vaccine - it is quite safe and the risk of having problems as compared to injectable is negligible. This programme of pulse polio is being run all over the country to eradicate polio from the country. Similar practice has been able to eradicate polio from many other countries in the world. By not giving pulse polio to your otherwise vaccinated child we are being selfish, doing a disservice to our country and not helping to eradicate polio from the country.

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