This is not the case with the injected vaccine, which contains a form of the virus that is essentially dead and cannot replicate at all. This is why many countries have switched to injected polio vaccines; the UK moved away from oral polio vaccination in 2004, for example. The injected vaccine is administered in four or five doses, the first at two months of age.
How did it get here?
So why is the virus in London’s sewage? The chain of transmission likely started with a child, someone who had recently been vaccinated with the oral vaccine in another country, Stonehouse says. “This child may be absolutely fine and may have already stopped developing vaccine-derived polio,” he says. “But maybe they passed it on to someone else, who passed it on to someone else.” The virus appears to have spread through a small but unknown number of people in London.
I say London because that is where the virus has been detected. Wastewater is routinely tested for a range of viruses at a couple of sites there and one in Scotland, Stonehouse says. But many virologists think the virus could spread more widely in the UK and beyond, it’s just that we haven’t looked.
why now Stonehouse attributes this to “bad luck”. This type of spread may have happened before and we just didn’t notice it. That’s no reason to be blasphemed, though. “The virus spreads so easily that any sign of transmission is really worrying,” he says.
How concerned should we be? Adults can develop serious disease, but it’s rare, and they should still be protected by vaccinations they received as children. I am grateful for the lump of sugar dosed with the vaccine I was given as a child.
Children under the age of five are most at risk of polio and its complications, so it’s important to make sure children are up to date with their routine vaccinations. My daughter should already be protected – she has already received the three doses recommended for a child her age.
Children are more likely than adults to become infected and pass on the poliovirus, and can do so even if they have received the injected vaccine. A statement from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) cites unpublished evidence that the pertussis vaccine given to pregnant women can reduce their babies’ immune response to their first vaccinations, suggesting that these vaccines might not be as protective in the first years of life. . That’s partly why even vaccinated kids like mine are now being offered the shot. And because the vaccine is so safe, “even if you’re fully covered, it won’t hurt to get another one,” Stonehouse says.
Polio cannot be cured, but it can be prevented. That’s why I packed my daughter, along with kid-friendly cookies and a Cocomelon YouTube video already loaded on my phone, to our local doctor on a sunny Thursday afternoon.
My older daughter has not been invited to receive a booster dose: vaccines are not offered to children who have received the preschool (three years and four months) vaccine within the last year. But he will be eligible in a couple of months. I hope we don’t need one by then.