The famous American writer Mark Twain once said and truly so “ find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life”. It has taken me a long while to get here but I thank God for this every day now. I am loving this work experience as a public health practitioner and most days I forget its work🤣. As many of you have read my journey, https://hectoriaawekeya.com/my-story/, this was a call and I responded. Anyway, back to this week’s article.
If you will recall, in August 2019, there was a disturbing news report from a community in the North East region. A 2year old was found to have developed polio after a short illness. Investigations revealed the child had vaccine-derived poliomyelitis. The public health world was thrown into pandemonium.😤 The skeptics went to work. Conspiracy theories started flying everywhere.🤦🏾♀️ I remember people said she took the vaccine and that was why she got it. Chale, GH we are all multi specialists oo 🤣Anyway, yours truly got the facts right here👍🏾
What is poliomyelitis aka polio?
This is a viral disease that affects mainly children below 5years. it spreads commonly from person to person from the stools of an infected person to the hands of a healthy person who then takes it into their stomach where it grows and cause acute illness and then in some cases result in permanent paralysis of one or both limbs of the child or even result in the death of the affected child.
How many types of polioviruses are there?
There are 3 types of the virus that cause poliomyelitis. Type 1, 2, and three. All three viruses though unique in their makeup, all cause paralysis of their victims or even death. These viruses fortunately have been eradicated through concerted global and local efforts (strict routine vaccinations, catchup vaccinations through campaigns, etc) in most countries💯
How can one get infected with this virus?
Polio is spread by contaminated food and water in what we call a feco-oral transmission. That is from stools to water or food through contaminated hands. Simply put, polio is happening when the child eats another child’s feces. Really you ask? Yes, really. It’s simply a disease of poor sanitation just like cholera and others.
Is polio preventable?
Yes. Polio is among the diseases that are called vaccine-preventable diseases. Being fully immunized and applying good hygiene practices can help prevent this deadly disease. And for many years, many children around the world have been saved with vaccines.
Kinds of vaccines against polio
Oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccines (IPV). The oral polio vaccine is the first and has been around for many years. It is the reason we are today being declared free of wild polio infection. It is a vaccine made up of small doses of weakened poliovirus. This when dropped into the mouth of children, enters the stomach down to the intestines where it stimulates the body to produce antibodies against the viruses. Oral polio vaccines can be towards type 1, 2, 3, or all three. These are then used according to the countries needs.
IPV is made up of killed polioviruses and they are injections.
What is circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus?
Vaccine derived polioviruses are those viruses passed out in the stools of vaccinated children. Remember the explanations I gave for OPV?🤔 Exactly! So these weak viruses after doing the protective work in one child are passed out when they poop. They then find their way into the environment through unsanitary conditions to playgrounds, gutters, etc. other children who unfortunately did not get their vaccines at all or missed doses for reasons best known to their parents, then fall victim to these circulating viruses. They were weak in the vaccinated child but after days outside the body, they change forms into strong versions that can cause diseases.
Since 2019 to date, many more children have come down with this circulating vaccine-derived poliomyelitis in several regions of Ghana😢. Some environmental samples have also been detected in other parts of the country. This means that a lot more children can come down with the infection.
Can more children be prevented from being infected with the cVDP?
Yes! Evidence has shown that vaccinating all children within the vulnerable age brackets through local or national campaigns is highly effective in stopping further transmission of the virus. This is good news and the reason why in the midst of pandemic health workers were sent out in September and will be sent out again on October 8th-11th. For the love of your child, don’t miss it. Vaccines are very very safe.
Should your child receive immunizations on National campaign days (NID)?
Yes! many time some parents refuse immunizations😢 because the children received previous vaccinations. Kindly note these campaigns are set for extra protection for them so missing out on these may put your child at risk.
Yours truly and Bridget (Regional supervisors) with a team (Vaccinator and a volunteer)🤗 in the just ended NID campaign
Your role as a caregiver during NID?
Make your children available on days of routine immunizations or national campaigns. Prompt your neighbor to vaccinate their wards too. Open your doors when we come knocking😊 Be kind to our teams. If your home has not been visited and the campaign is drawing to an end, don’t wait any further❌, carry your child to a nearby government facility and get it done✅.
Remember, it is only when every child is protected that they are all truly protected. Help us reach every eligible child in the next campaign.
Until I come your way again next time, remember there is a wind of circulating polioviruses across Ghana and other African countries, keep your child and my child safe by getting them vaccinated in all the rounds of vaccination.💪🏾