Thousands of children in England not fully vaccinated against polio, new figures show

Data shows that thousands of children across England, and especially in London, are not completely protected from polio. Official data analyzed by the PA news agency shows that some 592,191 (85.3%) of 693,928 children aged five in England in 2020/21 had received a polio booster by their fifth birthday, compared with 101,737 (14.7%) %) did not.

Nearly a third of all these vulnerable five-year-olds were in London (34,105). The regional percentage of five-year-olds who did not receive a booster ranged from 8.4% in north-east England to 27.4% in London.

In south-west England, 10.3% did not receive their booster (usually given at three years and four months of age), and in eastern England 10.4% did not. The figures were 10.8% in Yorkshire and the Humber, 11.4% in the South East and 12.3% in the East Midlands.
According to data from NHS Digital and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), some 13.8% in north-west England also did not receive a booster, compared with 15.1% in the West Midlands.

Separate UKHSA data shows that 502,247 out of 625,379 year 10 children in England in the academic year 2020/21 had received a juvenile booster (80.3%), while 123,132 (19.7%) had not. The regional breakdown of those who did not receive a juvenile booster ranged from 16.1% in the south-east of England to 23.2% in the south-west.

Recent quarterly figures for October to December 2021 show that nearly a third of children in London did not have a booster by the age of five, compared to more than one in 10 in the rest of England. The data comes as people were urged to ensure their polio vaccines are up to date after an outbreak of the virus was detected in UK sewage samples.

Polio was found during routine monitoring of sewage samples collected from the Becton Sewage Treatment Works, which serves nearly four million people in north and east London. Previously, the virus was picked up when a person vaccinated overseas with live oral polio vaccine (OPV) or traveled to the UK and shed parts of the vaccine-like poliovirus in their stool.

However, in recent samples the virus has evolved in England and is now classified as a “vaccine-derived” poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2). VDPV is a strain of weakened polio virus, initially included in the oral polio vaccine, that has changed over time and behaves like a “wild” or naturally occurring virus.

This means that it can spread more easily to people who have not been vaccinated and who come into contact with an infected person’s feces or coughs and sneezes. The UKHSA is working on the theory that a person vaccinated abroad with the polio vaccine – possibly in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Nigeria – entered the UK in early 2022 and was shedding the virus.

That person has now passed it to other, closely related individuals in north-east London, who in turn are shedding the virus in their feces. Experts are looking at the possibility that only one family or extended family may be affected.

The UKHSA stressed that the virus has only been detected in sewage samples and that no cases of paralysis have been reported. It is now investigating the extent of community transmission and has established a “national event” to investigate cases elsewhere.

Professor David Salisbury, chair of the World Health Organization Global Commission for the Certification of Polio Eradication, said: “It should not be surprising that polio vaccine-derived viruses have been found in sewage in London. The most likely person to bring the virus is a child. Would have been

“Genetic mutations in the virus mean that it is transmitted between individuals, possibly including those who have been vaccinated with the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), as has been used in the UK vaccination program for nearly 20 years. Is.”

Most people who get polio do not have symptoms, but some have mild, flu-like problems such as high temperature, extreme tiredness, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and muscle aches. In one in 100 to 1,000 infections, the polio virus attacks the nerves of the spinal cord and base of the brain and can cause paralysis.

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