UGANDA: Govt to Stop Oral Polio Vaccine

July 2016 theObserver; The oral polio vaccine, OPV, will be off the shelves in three years’ time, government has said, because it has side effects. Government will switch to the safer injectable polio vaccine (IPV).

“By 2020, we will stop giving out OPV to children because it has side effects like high fever, pain, weakness and others. We shall only give IPV since its part of the global strategy to end Polio,” said Dr Cassim Kaggwa-Ddumba, the health promotion and education officer in the ministry of Health.

He told The Observer on July 21 that the government has withdrawn from dispensing OPV because it offers protection against an extinct polio component called type 2. The last recorded case of type 2 in Africa was in 1999.

“Polio has three types of components, which include type 1, 2 and 3. But the old OPV vaccine had only the type 2 component. Then the World Health Organisation (WHO) decided to combine all the three types of polio vaccine into the injectable polio vaccine, to make it safer for children. It is given once, at 14 weeks of a child,” Kaggwa said.

Immaculate Ampeire, the senior medical officer of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization (UNEPI), said routine polio immunization in the country mainly focuses on giving more protection to children against different types of polio viruses that can easily spread through mixed communities with refugees.

“Due to instability in the neighboring countries like South Sudan, Congo and Somalia, some refugees might come with polio and spread it in the community. This is why we shall continue the routine immunization for our children. Even if a child gets six doses of the polio vaccine, there is no harm. It boosts the child’s immunity against polio,” she said.

Ampeire said there are very few cases of people resisting immunization within the country since they know its benefits. It protects the child from 11 killer diseases.

Ampeire, however, requested parents to report any side effects of the vaccine. The side effects, she said could be brought on by either manufacturers of the vaccine, poor transportation or storage.

Dr Paul Kaggwa, the acting commissioner for Health Services, said immunization has not been so good in Kampala and Wakiso districts because health workers delay to take materials at health centers and don’t remind people when to return for more doses.

“So, people end up not completing doses since they are not told when to return for more doses and some vaccines are not well protected within hospitals, which can cause side effects,” he said.

Henry Luzze, the deputy manager for immunization programme in Uganda, said, “We used to immunize against six killer diseases but they are now 11. They include T.B, polio, whopping cough, Tetanus, misdeals, diphtheria, human papilloma virus (HPV) and others.”

Polio immunization is given against lifelong polio lameness and possible death.  The polio virus usually affects children under five years who are not fully immunized.

According to ministry of health statistics, for the last ten years, over 10 billion doses of OPV have been given to about three billion children worldwide. More than 10 million cases of polio have been prevented and the disease has been reduced by more than 99 percent since 1988, when the global polio eradication campaign started. The last polio virus in Africa was last seen in Nigeria in 2014.



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