The Ministry of Health has adopted a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation to move from Oral Polio Vaccine to the injectable version of the virus which experts say gives greater protection against the disease.
Dr. Henry Luzze, the Deputy Manager of the Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunisation (UNEPI) said: “Following the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the Polio Eradication and End game Strategic plan 2013 – 2018 we are now adopting a new and comprehensive approach of polio immunization where we now combine the use of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and the injectable Polio Vaccine (IVP) in order to strengthen children immunity to protect themselves against Polio” said.
Experts say that the switch from the oral version to an injectable version is motivated by the need to reduce side effects of the vaccine but also expand protection against other types of the disease which were previously not affected by the orally administered polio vaccine.
“Although IPV has limited capacity to induce immunity when used alone as per new evidence shows that when used together, OPV and IPV can strengthen immunity even more effectively than OPV alone. On 29th April this year this new injectable vaccines was introduced to Ugandans and we want the public to know that this IVP is not better than OPV but each drug has its own strength therefore if combined they will provide the best protection,” added Dr. Luzze
No danger if administered together
Dr. Immaculate Ampeire, a Senior Medical officer told The Sunrise that the two vaccines can be administered together without causing any health problem to the child.
Ampeire explained that the Polio vaccine is given to a child at birth or in 2 weeks which is (Polio 0) and six weeks or first contact after 6 weeks (Polio1).
“Even if both vaccines IPV and OPV are administered to the child at the same time they don’t have any problem but it’s in the best interests of the child to receive both polio and minimize missed opportunities to fully immunize children. Multiple injections in one visit have shown no side effects according to research from the high-income countries.
“I want to inform our people not to get worried of multiple injections because IPV is effective when taken alone or with other vaccines. It’s better for a child to experience one brief moment of discomfort that pain two separate”
Number of doses
Dr. Cassim Kaggwa Ddumba, a medical personnel at UNEPI said: “At least one dose of IPV should be given to the child in addiction to multiple doses of OPV, as part of routine immunization schedule to ensure that your child is immunized at right time. However I advise parents to bring their children for immunization because there is no cure for polio and it can cause severe lameness or kill an infected child,”