Injectable polio vaccinations are being introduced in India in a phased manner, as part of a global shift in polio vaccinations to a new bivalent oral polio vaccine (BOPV). The change, is in line with a directive from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Why Injectable Polio Vaccines
Under a directive from the World Health Assembly, countries across the globe will introduce a dose of injectable polio vaccine in their immunization program. The plan is to administer the injectable form along with oral polio drops, as part of a larger shift from the trivalent oral polio vaccine (TOPV) vaccination prevalent so far.
The TOPV used live strains of the polio virus to eradicate the disease. This vaccination carries a small risk of infection from the live strains in the vaccine itself. The new shift to the injectable form that does not carry live strains, is meant to offer a safer alternative; also because most of the country’s population has already received doses of TOPV.
Moreover, the scenario has changed from 1988, when the World Health Assembly had announced polio eradication as a global priority. India, as well as many other countries, is currently polio free. In the current context, the new vaccine will be more effective than the prevalent oral polio vaccine. The aim is to do away with the oral polio vaccine in the long run, as the needs of the population has changed.
Is the injectable vaccine safe?
The injectable vaccine or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), carrying inactivated (killed) strains of the virus is recommended as it cuts the risk of vaccine-associated polio incidence. It is said to trigger good immune response in most people.
There are disadvantages for the IPV as well: it is more expensive than oral drops. It also needs expert health workers to administer it.
Where can we get IPV?
The new injectable vaccines will be given in two fractional doses (0.1 ml each) for newborns when they turn 14 weeks along with oral drops, in all government institutions.
The new vaccine is already in use in the southern Indian states and in states such as Assam, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. The IPV has already been introduced in the private sector in Karnataka and many other states.
Dr. Anand Philip