UNICEF, WHO laud India's polio-free status, says 'all govt-vaccines safe'
In a joint statement issued today, UNICEF and WHO said the risk of children getting vaccine-derived poliovirus was "minimal" in India because of high routine immunization coverage in the country.
UNICEF, WHO on India's polio free status
'India continues to remain vigilant against all types of polioviruses'
The two global agencies also asserted that all vaccines provided under the Universal Immunization Program (UIP) are safe and urged people to get their children vaccinated.
"Certified polio-free in March 2014, India continues to remain vigilant against all three types of polioviruses. The last polio case due to wild poliovirus in the country was detected on 13 January 2011," the statement said.
Type 2 polivirus containing vaccine has been phased out globally
The agencies said type-2 poliovirus containing vaccine has been phased out globally, and in India, in April 2016, as part of polio endgame strategy. Like in other countries, bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) has replaced the trivalent OPV (tOPV) in all polio campaigns in India.
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Detection of virus demonstrates a robust polio surveillance system: Statement
As advised by India Expert Advisory Group, India continues to conduct mass vaccination campaigns against polio, using bOPV, to maintain high immunity.
Referring to a recent incident in which type 2 polio vaccine virus was found in some sewage and stool samples, the organizations said that detection of virus demonstrates a robust polio surveillance system jointly managed by Health Ministry, the WHO, and partners.
Health Ministry ordered withdrawal of vaccines found contaminated with polio-virus
A team of Indian Council of Medical Research, Drug Controller General of India, and Health Ministry investigated the matter.
"A few vials of bOPV, supplied by one manufacturer, were found to contain traces of Type 2 polio vaccine virus. The Ministry of Health took immediate, decisive action withdrawing vaccine supplied by this manufacturer from all states that it was supplied to," the statement said.
'Immediate withdrawal of vaccines demonstrates India's commitment to children's health'
"Despite the risk of vaccine-derived polio being minimal, the immediate withdrawal of these vaccines demonstrates the commitment of the government to the health of children," the UNICEF and WHO said.
"In view of high routine immunization coverage being achieved in India under Universal Immunization Program (UIP), the risk of children getting vaccine-derived poliovirus is minimal," the joint statement added.