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August 14, 2022

What do parents need to know about polio?

Many parents are alarmed by recent polio news reports. Here are some things to be aware of and take action on.

Have your polio vaccine now - information for parents


It's understandable if you know little to nothing about polio. Since 1979, there have been no wild cases of polio in the US. This is because people get vaccinated.

Sadly, this does not imply that polio is absent in the US. Either the "vaccine-derived" virus or the wild poliovirus can be brought into the country by travellers. Recently, there have been reports of instances of polio, primarily vaccine-derived cases, coming from neighbouring nations, although wastewater data indicates that the poliovirus is spreading in some regions. Parents should be aware of the following:


What is vaccine-derived poliovirus?


The polio vaccine aids in the body's production of the antibodies required to fight polio. Many nations utilise an inactivated form of the poliovirus in the oral polio vaccination. The sole vaccine used in the US since 2000 is an inactivated shot that is based on a virus that has been killed.

The oral polio vaccine is where the virus used in vaccines is obtained from. Although the oral vaccine is safe and effective in most cases, those with compromised immune systems may get sick from the weak virus. When there are many people who are unvaccinated, illness may spread.
 
Herd immunity to polio is built via widespread immunization. The infrequent traveller carrying wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus doesn't pose a threat if enough individuals are vaccinated. Herd immunity is a word used to describe how vaccination protects people: if enough people are protected by vaccination, it makes it difficult for the illness to spread, protecting others who aren't.
 
For polio, the number of people who must receive vaccinations in order to limit the spread of the disease ranges from 80% to 85%. Although the majority of children in the US have received the polio vaccination, vaccine reluctance still exists, especially when unvaccinated children reside in clusters where diseases can spread. These days, herd immunity cannot always be relied upon to safeguard unvaccinated children.

What facts regarding polio should parents be aware of? 


It can be dangerous. The majority of those who contract the virus either show no symptoms or very mild flu-like symptoms, which can let it spread quietly. Polio can sometimes harm the brain and spinal cord. Polo can cause paralysis or even death in roughly one out of every 200 cases. Polio outbreaks in the late 1940s rendered around 35,000 individuals annually incapacitated.

  
Vaccinations are effective. With the development of the inactivated and oral polio vaccines in the 1950s and 1960s, the number of paralysed people in the US due to polio dropped from 15,000 in the 1950s to only 10 in the 1970s.

Vaccination against polio is remarkably effective. 90% of people can be protected against polio with two doses of the inactivated vaccine; with a third dose, that protection increases to 99%–100%. Inactivated vaccine doses are currently given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, with a booster dose given between 4 and 6 years of age.
 
The vaccine is safe. Some people experience a momentary feeling of dizziness along with possible redness or pain at the injection site. Although allergies can be unpredictable and any medical treatment may have side effects, there haven't been any major issues with the inactivated polio vaccination.

If you have any concerns regarding polio or the vaccine, consult your doctor. A quick shot is all it takes to shield those around you from a scary illness.
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No Health content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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