An injectable vaccine to prevent re-emergence of polio was launched today by the government and it will be administered in addition to polio drops to double the protection from the deadly virus, which has chances of coming back.
Health Minister J.P. Nadda said that though India was certified polio-free on March 27, 2014, the battle against polio is 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 kinds of support including technical, experience or vaccine-related assistance. But we will have to be vigilant till the virus is eradicated globally,” Mr. Nadda said at a function here 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
In the first phase, the IPV injection is being introduced in six states — Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
However, the children will continue to receive OPV (polio drops) dose under routine immunisation and in pulse polio campaigns till they are 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 B.P. Sharma said.
He said with the elimination of Type 2 polio from the country, the government is shifting from tOPV vaccine to bOPV vaccine in April 2016 and the introduction of new vaccine IPV in the immunisation programme will reduce the risk associated with the shift.