Just a few days back, millions of Indians had woken up to the news on WhatsApp “Tomorrow do not give polio dose for kids up to 5 years as some virus has been found in them, …. Do not give oral polio dose to the baby until next update”. This was followed by a newspaper screenshot with the headline Vaccine raises the specter of ‘dead’ polio strains’ spread. The news went viral in no time with multiple shares and forwards to more and more WhatsApp group and a panic situation was created.
Parents who were planning on administering polio drops to their little ones were indeed confused about if the news was some hoax or a fact. I was also one of them. I forwarded the news to several of my mommy friends and other parent groups on WhatsApp in the hope of getting some further information on the news. But nobody seemed to have a clue about the fact of the matter.
So what’s the truth?
The news that was published said that a batch of oral polio vaccines manufactured by Ghaziabad-based company Biomed was allegedly contaminated by an older strain (strain II) of the virus. This virus as reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) was supposedly eradicated in India in 2014. It was said that these contaminated vials of polio vaccine were already administered to children in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Telangana.
1.5 lakh vaccines were sent out to the market out of which 2/3rd was already administered and the rest 1/3rd of them have been recalled.
Necessary legal steps have been taken against the MD of the company in concern.
What is to be done if the child has already been administered contaminated oral vaccine?
Now the primary concern among parents is what if their kid has been administered the contaminated drop. However, the Health Ministry has ruled out the panics and worries clarifying that the type II polio vaccine virus traces that were found in the vials of the oral vaccine will not likely cause an infection. “Type 2 polio vaccine virus traces which have been found in bOPV vials is the attenuated (weakened) poliovirus and does not cause paralysis and was also earlier used in tOPV till April 2016. The recipients of such vaccine will usually shed the vaccine virus through fecal route for about 4-6 weeks after which it will die down,” the health ministry said.
Certain Government teams have been created in Mumbai and Telangana who are conducting door-to-door visits in order to monitor children who have been administered the contaminated vaccine.
Here are a few precautions you can take when giving polio oral vaccine to your child:
- Consult your pediatrician or the nurse giving the dosage
- Share any medical history of your child with the doctor before the vaccine
- Ask questions about fevers and other symptoms post-vaccination
- If your child is having an existing fever, cold, runny nose or some infections; it is best advised to avoid the vaccination.
You should be wholly satisfied that the pediatrician well answers all your questions before you administer the vaccine.
In this age of social media, there are a number of news that gets cropped up and forwarded every other day. Be aware and do not fall prey to any unsubstantiated news shared by any social media platform, no matter how reliable the source is.
Don’t waste time assuming if the news is a fake or truth, just call your physician or consult with your child’s pediatrician to clear your doubts.