PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to administer inactivated polio vaccines (IPV), along with the oral polio vaccine (OPV) it already uses, for effective protection against poliovirus in the province.
IPV is administered via injection and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), all countries currently only using OPV should add at least one dose of IPV to their immunisation programmes. The WHO also recommends an OPV dose at birth, followed by the primary series of three OPV doses and at least 1 IPV dose.
“The IPVs will become part of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI),” EPI Deputy Director Dr Janbaz Afridi told The Express Tribune on Wednesday. Though the plan has been approved, it is undecided at the moment as to when it will be put into effect. He explained that under the programme, children under two years of age will be administered the injections in areas where polio drops have already been administered.
The programme to administer the IPV would initially be launched in Peshawar with the help of the WHO and Unicef, who are helping the province in its vaccination campaigns.
Dr Afridi added the IPV injections have already arrived but are yet to be put into use as the decision to kick-start the vaccine is yet to be taken.
This is a major change in the K-P government’s strategy to eradicate the virus with nine of 68 polio cases this year having emerged from the province.
Even though water samples recently taken from Peshawar were reported clear of the poliovirus, the provincial capital is still considered a place where the virus still exists, with four cases being discovered this year.
The Chief Minster’s (CM) Polio Monitoring Cell Focal Person Imtiaz Ali Shah told The Express Tribune that the injectable vaccines are used all over the world.
He said the polio advisory board has decided to use them in Peshawar along with regular polio drops for children up to two years of age, adding a high-level meeting chaired by the CM will finalise the contours of the programme.
“The drops will be given to children who have already been administered polio drops and are protected from the virus,” said Shah.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2014.