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Polio Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know

Though India is officially a polio-free country, it is compulsory that children below five years of age receive the vaccine as polio still exists in some countries.

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Updated:October 15, 2019, 11:50 AM IST
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Polio Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know
Though India is officially a polio-free country, it is compulsory that children below five years of age receive the vaccine as polio still exists in some countries.

The polio vaccine protects children against poliomyelitis which is commonly known as polio. The poliovirus primarily spreads through the faeces of infected people. It is usually ingested and affects the nervous system of the infected person, leading to paralysis. It can also be fatal and children and the elderly are most at risk for contracting the disease. Though India is officially a polio-free country, it is compulsory that children below five years of age receive the vaccine as polio still exists in some countries. Therefore, there is always a risk of the disease spreading to India.

What Is Polio?

Polio is caused by a virus. The spread of polio is usually through food and water that has been contaminated by the virus. There is usually no symptoms of the infection, however, when symptoms do show up they are similar to that of the flu: fever, sore throat, headaches, muscle pain, back and neck stiffness and nausea. Children are more susceptible to contracting the disease, which can cause permanent paralysis of single or multiple limbs. Though once contracted, polio is incurable, this viral disease is easily preventable through immunisation. Here’s everything you need to know about the vaccine and its importance.

Who Needs The Polio Vaccine?

The polio vaccine is given to newborns to kids up to the age of five years old. This is because young children are especially at risk of contracting the disease. The vaccine is given repeatedly to boost resistance to the virus and ensure that it cannot survive in the body.

How Many Times Does A Child Need To Get The Vaccine?

In the first year of their life, a child should get three or more doses of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). This is because the OPV is not completely effective in preventing polio. Therefore, repeat doses boost immunity against the virus.

Can It Be Taken If My Child Is Sick?

If your child has a mild illness such as a cough or cold, or even a fever or upset stomach, he or she can still take the vaccine. The vaccine can usually be given to children who are taking medications or are on antibiotics as well. Even so, check with the health professional administering the vaccine in case your child is ill or suffering from any ailment.

Common Myths

Many believe that the OPV leads to impotence. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove this.

Does The Colour Of The Vaccine Matter?

The vaccine is usually a pink liquid that is given orally to children but the colour can also be white or yellow. This difference in colour has no bearing on the efficacy or quality of the vaccine.

Safety Of The Vaccine

There have been negative rumours regarding the safety of the polio vaccine recently, however, these are completely baseless and parents and guardians should pay no heed to these false stories. The polio vaccine has been tested by the Indian government as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is completely safe for administration.

This is a partnered post.

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