In response to a polio outbreak in London, authorities in the United Kingdom plan to relaunch a child vaccination campaign.
Following a polio outbreak last year, British authorities are resuming efforts to vaccinate every child in London aged one to eleven.
After the formerly extinct disease was discovered in the city’s sewer system last year, an initial campaign to immunise all children was launched, with the virus thought to have possibly re-entered open-borders Britain from abroad.
Despite this effort to vaccinate the most vulnerable population, uptake for the childhood polio jab in London remains well below the national average, with the country’s National Health Service now set to renew efforts to inoculate more children against the virus, which can cause paralysis and even death.
“Until we reach every last child, we cannot be sure that we will not see a case of paralysis,” The Telegraph reports Dr Vanessa Saliba of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) as saying regarding the outbreak.
“Even a single case of paralysis from polio would be a tragedy as it is completely preventable,” she continued. “Only by improving vaccination coverage across all communities can we ensure resilience against future disease threats.”
The ongoing Polio outbreak is thought to be the result of the live oral polio vaccine (OPV), a type of inoculation that involves administering live but weakened forms of the polio virus to the individual receiving the vaccination.
Although the vaccine appears to be effective in preventing polio infections, it also causes the person who receives it to shed a “vaccine-like virus” in their stool, which can sometimes mutate into a far more dangerous “vaccine-derived” poliovirus that can cause significant harm to humans.
As a result, London has seen the return of a virus that had previously been declared extinct in the country since 2003, with experts now fearing that the country could see its first case of polio paralysis since 1984.