NHS Polio Vaccine

The NHS makes use of a number of different vaccination technologies to ensure that every injection or oral vaccine used is best suited to the task of protecting the children of the UK from contagious and harmful diseases. In this article we look at the polio vaccine used by the NHS as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme.

The polio vaccine in the NHS’ childhood programme

Polio was at one point a major concern across the world, posing a serious and highly contagious threat to children and people of all ages. The disease could cause varying degrees of paralysis, and in the worst of cases it could even be fatal.

Since the invention of the vaccine in the 1960s the number of polio infections has dropped dramatically, and the prospect of eliminating the disease all together now seems possible if the vaccination rate can be increased sufficiently in the years to come.

The polio vaccine is administered at 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 3 years, and 13-18 years of age under the NHS childhood programme. It is usually given as part of combination injections (vaccinations that protect against a number of conditions) to spare children the need for multiple injections.

The IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) is administered as part of the 5-in-1 injection that also immunises against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and Haemophilus influenza type B. The inactivated polio vaccine is made up of dead poliovirus, which is safe because the virus can no longer actively work against the body to cause disease, but can still induce an immune response against it and thereby confer immunity against the disease itself.

The IPV is also used as part of the 4-in-1 pre-school vaccination that also immunises against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. This injection is given to children before they go to school, and supports the previous doses of the 5-in-1.

IPV is extremely effective and safe, however the booster doses scheduled as part of the vaccination programme are vital to ensuring that the immunity conferred is enough to protect against the real poliovirus. This is because while inactivated vaccines like IPV are extremely safe, one of their caveats is that they don’t induce the entire immune response as well as alternative vaccination technologies. However you should rest assured that the IPV programme has been part of reducing the number of polio cases in the UK dramatically in the years since its introduction.

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