Govt Calls for Vaccination of Children as Polio Resurfaces

by | Feb 27, 2024 | COVID 19, Health, Local News | 0 comments

Govt Calls for Vaccination of Children as Polio Resurfaces

Staff Reporter

Zimbabwean Health Authorities have urged parents to vaccinate their children against polio.

This comes after two healthy children tested positive for the virus in a routine environmental surveillance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care said that the children who are below five years old, did not show any signs or symptoms of polio.

I’m an interview, WHO Polio Eradication Initiative Coordinator,Sadiq Umar said the two polio positive children could still infect others who are not immunized.
“This is evidence that we must do a campaign to make sure other children are not affected,” said Umar.

Umar said the environmental samples were taken from a sewer system near the children’s houses and tested positive for polio type 2, which was eradicated globally in 2015.

He said the virus was likely a result of vaccine-derived polio, which occurs when the weakened virus used in oral polio vaccines mutates and regains the ability to cause disease.

Umar emphasized the urgent need to launch a comprehensive vaccination campaign to protect other children from falling victim to vaccine-derived polio.

He stressed that if infected children come into contact with those who have low vaccine uptake or remain unvaccinated, there is a significant risk of paralysis development in the latter group.

According to WHO, approximately 90 per cent of children infected with polio will not display any signs or symptoms. Only 10 per cent will experience paralysis and other related symptoms.

However, even children who test positive for polio without exhibiting symptoms can reduce the shedding of the virus over time through natural processes and a robust immune response.

However, children with compromised immune systems due to conditions such as HIV, cancer, or malnutrition are at a higher risk of paralysis.

Furthermore, Umar stressed the essentiality of vaccinating even children already paralyzed by polio. He highlighted a specific case in Sanyati where a child was paralyzed by polio type 2.

“It is crucial to protect against other polio types as well. The child in question had only received one dose of the vaccine throughout their life, emphasizing the ongoing need for vaccination,” he said.

Polio is an extremely infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system, potentially resulting in complete paralysis within a matter of hours.

The virus primarily spreads through person-to-person contact, often through contaminated water or food. Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck, and pain in the limbs.

Approximately 1 in 200 infections lead to irreversible paralysis, with 5-10% of paralyzed individuals succumbing to the disease when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

Umar also said there is a polio vaccination campaign currently running in Zimbabwe, and urged the public to vaccinate their children.

“Vaccination is the only way to stop polio and protect children from this crippling disease,” he said.