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HSE will relook at polio vaccination programme if found to be eradicated

With World Polio Day taking place next week (24 October), there are hopes internationally that polio may be eradicated in the near future.

“It is likely that there will be changes to the national polio immunisation programme in the years to come, pending polio eradication,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).

“However, at this time (before we have reached eradication) we are unable to state what changes will be made. 

“The WHO [World Health Organisation] will issue guidance to countries following eradication. It is likely that there will be a transition period after eradication to monitor the situation in the event that polio may re-emerge, either the wild type of virus or vaccine-derived circulating virus.”

Routine polio immunisation was introduced in Ireland in 1957. The last case of polio in Ireland was reported in 1984. Some 7,000 polio survivors in Ireland are still living with disabilities from this disease.

Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988, the WHO says that worldwide polio cases have dropped by 99 per cent. 

See feature, pages 4-5

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