How safe is oral polio vaccine?

The virus in the OPV is processed in a way that it cannot cause harm at any level


Saleha Rauf October 23, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: Many people voice doubts about the safety of the oral polio vaccine, more so after seven children fell ill following an immunisation drive in Bahawalpur. The Express Tribune spoke to officials and experts about the safety of the OPV.   

“People suspect the vaccine has harmful ingredients,” said National Emergency Operation Center for Polio Coordinator Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar. “There is no truth in this; there are only three components in polio vaccine.”

The virus in the OPV is processed in a way that it cannot cause harm at any level. Secondly, the virus has diluents to keep it preserved and less communicable and the third component is an antibiotic that keeps the fluid safe from other microorganisms.

“There are no other ingredients that can cause any illness among children and an oral vaccine has no chance of any additive impurity.” Dr Safdar added the vaccine is obtained from World Health Organization.

After the Bahawalpur incident, a committee was formed under the principal of Nishtar Medical College, said EPI Health Director Dr Munir Ahmed. “Its report said two children were only given measles vaccine in the drive and they died of diarrhoea, not the vaccine.” Ahmed added that two vaccinators and the district development health officer were suspended because of negligence on their part, not because any vaccine caused the fatalities.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.

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