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Health ministry to boost polio prevention

Update: November, 20/2015 - 18:00
A nurse is immunising a child in local health facility. — VNS/VNA Photo Duong Ngoc

HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Health urged parents to bring toddlers under 12 months to health facilities for oral polio vaccines (OPVs) today, as neighbouring Laos has detected cases of polio.

Localities with high risk of infection are launching campaigns to provide children with supplementary vaccines.

Although Viet Nam has eradicated polio since 2000 thanks to the national Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) by the government, the risk of wild viruses carried by foreign tourists or Vietnamese travelling from polio hotspots, still exist.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that countries which often have travellers from affected regions need to increase control of acute flaccid paralysis cases for early detection of virus invasion.

People travelling to affected areas, should be fully immunised. On the other hand, tourists coming from those areas should take one dose of OPV or be injected with the inactivated polio vaccination (IPV) four weeks to 12 months prior to the trip.

Polio, along with leukocytes, tetanus, and pertussis, in addition to Hib bacterial meningitis, and hepatitis B, have been identified as six major diseases which occur in young children.

The disease can spread from person to person through the digestive tract as the polio virus mainly exists in contaminated water and waste from faeces of patients, or on people carrying the polio virus. The disease may cause severe muscle pain, stiff neck, stiff backs, and flaccid paralysis, which may lead to death or permanent disability.

Vaccine Quinvaxem 5 in 1 can prevent five of the six diseases. However, it cannot prevent polio. Therefore, if children are vaccinated with Quinvaxem, they need to be supplemented with an OPV dose.

The EPI allows children under one year to have free OPV with their first dose when they are in their second month, the second dose at three months and the last one when they are 4 months old.

Children under five years of age in high-risk provinces also receive supplementary vaccines with coverage rate of 95 per cent. — VNS

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