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Why do we still use the polio vaccine on newborns?
Wednesday, 9 September 2020 14:30:47 Europe/London
The polio vaccine is given as part of the ‘6-in-1’ vaccination to babies. Polio is one of six diseases which the vaccination protects against. The vaccine is administered three times at eight, twelve and sixteen weeks by injection into the baby’s thigh.
Are there other types of polio vaccines?
The NHS prefers to use an inactivated vaccine rather than the alternative which is called OPV vaccine which stands for Oral Polio Vaccine which is given by mouth. The OPV vaccine consists of live poliovirus strains of each of the three stereotypes; there are several different types of polio.
What type of illness is polio?
Polio infection is spread from the faeces of someone with the disease or by moisture droplets through the air when they cough or sneeze. The actual illness can pass quite quickly but polio can leave persistent or life-changing complications which require long-term treatment and support. These include:-
- Muscle weakness
- Atrophy which is shrinking and wastage of the muscle
- Restricted or tight joints
- Deformities such as twisted legs or feet
The treatment of polio
There is no cure for polio and treatment focuses on minimising the potential for long-term problems during the infection. This may include hospitalisation with supported respiration, painkillers and regular physiotherapy to prevent muscle and joint damage. Physical changes to the body caused by polio can be permanent. In some parts of the world where there is no effective vaccination programme, polio can cause Poliomyelitis which is where the virus infects the spinal cord causing permanent paralysis.
Vaccination against polio is recommended if you have never had the polio or OPV vaccine or have not received the full course. If you have had polio then you will not be immune as there are several different types of polio so you should still have the vaccination. If you are travelling to certain parts of the world, it is recommended that you have a booster dose if you have not received any form of polio vaccine within the last ten years. We offer the polio vaccine at our vaccination clinic, check out the website for more information. www.milespharmacy.co.uk