Health Ministry to introduce new Polio Vaccine


February 21, 2018 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Lansana Conteh and  Dr. Dennis Marke

With support from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Health and Sanitation yesterday announced that they will be administering the Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) to prevent the spread of the virus.

The IPV, which will be officially launched on Friday, 23 February, is an injectable vaccine given to a child by a trained health worker for the prevention of all polio diseases.
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Sierra Leone has been administering the Oral Poliovirus Vaccine (OPV) for decades during routine immunisation campaigns to help in preventing the virus. It is the first time the IPV would be used in the country, even though the vaccine has been in existence since 1956 and has been administered to children in other countries.

According to Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Dr. Dennis Marke, introduction of the IPV would help boost the OPV, thereby controlling any future outbreak of polio.

He said the IPV works in the blood stream with the OPV operating in the intestine, adding that the new vaccine would consolidate the prevention of polio virus.

“We need to make the best use of the vaccines available to us for the eradication of polio virus. The eradication of the remaining strains of wild poliovirus transmission will be accelerated by the administration of this vaccine,” he said.

He disclosed that with support from WHO and UNICEF, a total of 99, 600 doses of IPV, targeting 69, 927 children across the country for the next three months.

With regards the fight against polio, Dr. Marke noted that 90% of cases show no signs and symptoms but added that signs could be weird but when severe, it could lead to paralysis.

He added that cases of polio have reduced around the world from 350,000 in 1988 to 22 cases as at December 2017.

WHO Team Lead for Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Dr. William Mbabazi said: “The IPV has been in use in many countries. It is the least painful and has minimal side effects. It is a very difficult vaccine to make and it is costly.”

He stated the administration of the vaccine will be done in health facilities across the country and not the usual house-to-house administration with the OPV.