7 things you must know about polio drops

Paediatrician Dr Prashanth Gowda answers important questions about Polio and why parents must get their kids vaccinated more than once

On January 28, President Pranab Mukherjee formally launched the pulse polio programme 2017, from Rashtrapati Bhavan. This programme will reportedly help around 17 crore children and help the country retain its mantle of a 'polio-free nation.' But do all parents know why polio drops are administered?

While most new parents already know that this is an important vaccine and must be administered to kids below the age of five once in their lives, there are still many questions that leave them confused.

We spoke to Dr Prashanth Gowda, consultant, neonatologist and paediatrician, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru, to help us get answers to some of the most pertinent and frequently asked questions about polio and polio drops and why all new parents must participate in this programme in 2017.

#1 At what age must polio drops be administered?

Polio is an incurable disease caused by the viral infection. It often affects the young children, paralyses their limbs for life. Therefore, preventing this disease is the only option.

"From the newborn babies till they become 5-year-old, they should be vaccinated for polio. The younger the baby, higher is the risk of getting the infection. So we recommend to have repeated vaccination for the kids," explains Dr Gowda.

#2 What's the latest age they can still get it? 

Children upto the age of 5 should be protected from this disease. So repeated vaccination helps. It increases the capacity of kids to resist the infection or disease. "After 5 years, there is less chance of kids getting infected by this infection," he shares.

polio drops

#3 How does polio affect the body? 

Poliovirus weakens the muscles resulting in the child unable to move. In most cases these virus weakens the muscles of the legs. But there are some rare cases where it affects the neck, head muscles as well.

"Some kids get fever, sore throat, headache, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. But over 70 percent cases will not see any symptoms," shared Dr Gowda.

The disease is preventable with the polio vaccine. But the number of dosage recommended by the doctors has to be taken to make it effective.

#4 Is there just one type of polio vaccine?

Two types of vaccines are available to combat polio. One is the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and the other is the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).

Dr Gowda explains, "Both give life time immunity against polio virus. OPV, the first dose is given to new born baby (neonate) then three doses of OPV and IPV are given 4 weeks apart at 6th, 10th and 14th week."

He adds that this is followed by booster doses of OPV and IPV, which are given at 15th to 18th month and booster dose of OPV, which is again given at 5 years.

"Along with these doses pulse polio doses on every national immunisation day conducted by the government are also mandatory. These doses are given due to various reasons of vaccine failure," he adds.

#5 Is polio vaccination as important as say a Hepatitis shot? 

Yes, it is very important to administer polio drops for the kids below the age of 5 years.

#6 Should they be administered only once in life?  

No. There are multiple dosages that should be given to the kids. From new born babies, till they become 5 years old these dosages should be repeated. 

#7 Why must new parents get their newborns vaccinated? 

Eliminating polio from our country is possible achievable task. It just needs polio vaccine to be given as per schedule and additional dose.

"It's all of our responsibility to prevent polio from affecting our children and letting them grow with full potential. New parents must join hands in eliminating polio virus from India and the world by giving polio vaccine and by spreading the awareness about it," he advises.

Read: Vaccination schedule for your baby: Is yours up to date?

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[All images courtesy: Instagram, Pixabay]