BMC Goes Ahead With Vaccination Drive in Mumbai Despite Polio Vaccine Scare
Oral poliovirus drops (Photo Credits: Flickr, RIBI Image Library)

Even in the wake of the polio vaccine scare where around 1.5 lakh vials of oral poliovirus vaccine were found contaminated, the Brihanmumbai Corporation has gone ahead with its vaccination drive today. A special drive has been undertaken to immunise around 1,200 children from four wards in Mumbai. BMC undertook the move to immunise after type 2 poliovirus was found in a sewage sample from Kurla.

A civic official told The Times of India that the drive is targeted towards children between the ages of 0 to 2, who have missed regular doses. For protection against the three strains of the virus, the child is supposed to get five doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and two doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) injection.

After finding type 2 poliovirus in the sewage, the screening for polio has been carried out more rigorously in the suburbs of Kurla, Mankhurd, Deonar, Andheri East, Vikhroli and Bhandup.

BMC health officials have screened the 20 lakh people in four wards to zero in on the 1,2000 children who have missed out on the polio doses. A civic official told TOI that the intensified vaccination drives had been carried out in areas where the virus was last recorded. The official added that the sample found in the sewage was a vaccine-virus and not a wild poliovirus. But BMC is going ahead with the vaccination to ensure that the children are protected 100 percent. Will Polio Return to India?

The detection of the virus in the Kurla sewers coincided with the finding of type 2 poliovirus in the stool samples of two children from UP. The vaccine-virus was phased out in 2016 after type 2 polio was eradicated in 1999. The Ghaziabad-based company Bio-Med has been implicated in the contaminated vials that were distributed in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana.‘Don’t Give Polio Drops To Children Under 5’ Hoax WhatsApp Forward Spreads Fake News About Polio Vaccines.

But it’s unclear how the poliovirus reached the sewers of Mumbai. “We didn’t find a single vial of the old trivalent vaccine that contained the p2 strain anywhere in the city. So the questions linger where it came from,” the health official added. The BMC has set up special field camps in places where more than eight children have been found to miss out on the regular vaccine doses. Oral Poliovirus Vaccine Drop Contamination: What We Need To Know About Type 2 Polio.

A situation of panic prevailed across the country when the news first broke out. WhatsApp forwards warning against vaccinating children have also been doing rounds. Health experts are quick to dispel the paranoia as scaremongering, adding that the present polio surveillance system of the country is robust to deal with the unlikely case of a polio outbreak. WHO also released a statement saying that India’s polio immunisation coverage lessens the chances of any untoward episode in India. Is Vaccination Safe for Your Child? Here’s What Every Parent Should Know about the MMR Vaccine.

A state official told TOI that apart from polio, if the children have missed out on any other vaccines for diseases such as tetanus, measles, meningitis and pneumonia covered under Mission Indradhanush. Health volunteers have also been working towards dispelling any fear parents have harboured in the aftermath of the vaccine scare.