Polio vaccine: How Wakefield compares on child vaccination rates

Wakefield's polio vaccination rate is lower than the World Health Organisation target of 95%, figures reveal.

By Leanne Clarke
Friday, 24th June 2022, 9:56 am

More than three quarters (76%) of local authorities in England have not hit polio vaccination targets set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), NationalWorld can reveal.

Analysis of the latest childhood vaccination coverage statistics published by the NHS shows 112 councils have vaccination rates below the 95% benchmark set by WHO which aims to control virus outbreaks.

The analysis comes after the poliovirus was identified by the UK Health Security Agency in sewage samples collected from the Beckton Sewage Treatment Works in London.

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Wakefield's polio vaccination rate is lower than the World Health Organisation target of 95%, figures reveal.

Health experts are now urging parents, especially those in London, to get their children vaccinated.

Vaccination rates in the capital remain the lowest in the UK with 86.7% of children vaccinated against polio before their first birthday during the 2020-21 period.

The North West was the second worst performing region with 91.7% vaccinated. The North East is the only English region to be above the WHO target, having vaccinated 95.5% of children.

Overall England’s vaccination rate is at 92.0%.

In Wakefield, 94.7% of children were vaccinated before their first birthday, ranking 100th for the least vaccinated children in England and 11th least vaccinated in the region.

However, Scotland and Wales both achieved the goal with vaccination rates hitting 96.5% and 95.6% respectively.

The UK vaccination rate as a whole is at 92.6% – 2.4 percentage points lower than the World Health Organisation target of 95%.

The UK’s vaccination rate has been below target since 2012-13 when it peaked at 95.1%.

The vaccine comes in a ‘six in one’ dose which offers protection against polio as well as other diseases such as hepatitis B and tetanus.

A primary course is given over the first few months of a child’s life with boosters required three years after completion of the primary course.

‘Individuals may remain at risk’

Although the risk to public health overall is low, health experts are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated.

The UK Health Security Agency said that the most likely scenario for the new polio cases was that a vaccinated person entered the country before February 2022 from a country where an oral polio vaccine has been used for supplementary immunisation campaigns.This is recognised as a ‘vaccine-derived poliovirus’.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower.

“On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your Red Book. Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination in childhood, but in some communities with low vaccine coverage, individuals may remain at risk.”

Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London, added: “The majority of Londoners are fully protected against polio and won’t need to take any further action, but the NHS will begin reaching out to parents of children aged under 5 in London who are not up to date with their polio vaccinations to invite them to get protected.

“Meanwhile, parents can also check their child’s vaccination status in their Red Book and people should contact their GP surgery to book a vaccination, should they or their child not be fully up to date.”

What is polio? Symptoms, treatment, prevention and is there a vaccine as virus found in UK sewage samples

A national incident has been declared after the polio virus has been found in sewage samples in the UK, with people urged to make sure their polio vaccines are up to date.

But what is polio, what are the symptoms and is there a vaccine?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is polio?

Polio is a serious infection that’s now very rare as it can be prevented with vaccination.

It was officially eradicated in the UK in 2003, but the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has found polio in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works. This serves around four million people in north and east London.

Polio is caused by a virus that spreads easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes and it can also be caught from food or water that’s been in contact with the poo of someone who has the virus.

What are the symptoms of polio?

Most people who get polio do not have symptoms, but some people get mild, flu-like symptoms, such as:

a high temperature

extreme tiredness (fatigue)

headaches

being sick (vomiting)

a stiff neck

muscle pain

These symptoms usually last up to 10 days.

Polio can also cause difficulty using your muscles (paralysis), usually in the legs, which can happen over hours or days, but this is rare and is not usually permanent.

Movement will slowly come back over the next few weeks or months.

However, it can be life threatening if the paralysis affects the muscles used for breathing.

You should ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if you have travelled to a country where polio is found and have polio symptoms.

What is the treatment for polio?

According to the NHS, treatment for polio will help your body fight off the infection and lower the risk of long-term problems.

It can include:

bed rest in hospital

painkillers

help with breathing

regular stretches and exercises to prevent problems with your muscles and joints

You may also need to have specialist help such as physiotherapy or surgery if you have any long-term problems caused by polio.

Is there a polio vaccine?

The best way to prevent polio is to make sure you and your child are up to date with your vaccinations, the NHS said.

You can ring your GP to check your polio vaccination status.

The polio vaccine is part of the NHS routine childhood vaccination schedule and is given when your child is:

8, 12 and 16 weeks old as part of the 6-in-1 vaccine

3 years and 4 months old as part of the 4-in-1 (DTaP/IPV) pre-school booster

14 years old as part of the 3-in-1 (Td/IPV) teenage booster

You need to have all of these vaccinations to be fully vaccinated against polio.

You can have a polio vaccination at any point if you’ve never had one before, even if you’re not travelling to a country with a risk of getting polio.

You should also get vaccinated even if you’ve had polio before as it protects against different types of polio.