Injectable vaccine to prevent polio re-emergence launched

An injectable vaccine to prevent the re-emergence of polio was launched by the government today. It would be administered in addition to polio drops to double the protection from the deadly virus, which had chances of returning.

The Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) would be introduced in the routine immunisation programme of the government to eliminate the risk of re-introduction of the disease.

According to health minister JP Nadda, though India was certified polio-free on 27 March 2014, the battle against polio was not over yet.

''The virus is still active in our neighboring countries - Pakistan and Afghanistan. Cases of polio still happen there.

So the risk of re-introduction of the disease remains, particularly through importation from these endemic countries,'' he said.

''We are there to give them all kind of support, including technical, experience or vaccine-related assistance. But we will have to be vigilant till the virus is eradicated globally,'' Nadda said at a function in New Delhi to launch the vaccine.

''To ensure that our children are doubly protected from polio, the IPV is being introduced into the routine immunisation programme,'' he said

The first phase would see the IPV injection introduced in six states - Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

Children would, however, continue to receive OPV (polio drops) dose under routine immunisation and in pulse polio campaigns till they were 5 years of age.

''Even after receiving the IPV vaccine with the third dose of OPV (polio drops), the children must continue to receive OPV doses under routine immunisation and in pulse polio campaigns till they are five years of age,'' health secretary BP Sharma said.

With the elimination of Type 2 polio from the country, the government was shifting from tOPV vaccine to bOPV vaccine in April 2016 and the introduction of new vaccine IPV in the immunisation programme could cut the risk associated with the shift.