Oral polio vaccination is one of the important vaccinations that are given to babies and children. Let us take a look at the importance of giving OPV or oral polio vaccine to children.
Polio vaccines are given to children in order to prevent the disorder known as poliomyelitis or polio which is caused by polio virus. This disease weakens the muscles causing disability to move. Leg muscles are mainly affected by this virus. The polio vaccine is given in injection (IPV) as well as orally (OPV). Through mass campaigns of polio vaccination, it is possible to successfully eradicate polio from most parts of the world. Take an in-depth look at the importance, side-effects and other concerns related to oral polio vaccine or OPV.
What is OPV and what are its side effects?
Usually, four doses of this polio vaccine are administered to the child: at two, three and four months and then again between three and five years along with the dose which is given immediately after the birth. The dose is given immediately after the birth in order to increase the immune response to the doses that are given later on to the child. It is a very safe vaccine and the child rarely has any reactions following a dose. However, there is a 1 in 8.7 million risk of paralysis and a negligible risk that a susceptible member of the household might contract polio from an immunized child.
When should OPV not be given?
Doctors should refrain from giving the live oral polio vaccine to children who have cancer, whose immune systems are weakened because they are ill or under medication. It is also not advisable for babies who live in a household where there is a person whose immune system is deficient. In such cases, it is advisable to administer an inject-able, inactivated vaccine.
How does OPV work?
The antibodies that fight against all of the types of polio viruses are developed by OPV. These antibodies protect the child from getting affected with polio paralysis. It also stops polio virus from multiplying and affecting the nervous system. It also protects the lining of the intestine which is also known as mucous membrane from the attack of polio virus. Mucous membrane is the main sight of polio virus attack and multiplication. This intestinal defence of OPV also helps to prevent its spread from one person to another with the help of mass OPV campaigns.
What are the advantages of giving OPV?
OPV is given free of cost across throughout the government vaccination centres in India.
It is safe and comes with almost no side effects.
It is very easy to administer the dose of OPV as it is administered orally. It can be administered by non-professionals as well making it easier to carry out mass campaigns.
OPV is very effective in building immunity against polio virus.
It also enables passive immunisation after the few weeks of administration thereby immunising others in the neighbourhood who have not been given OPV.
What are the different types of polio vaccines?
Polio vaccines can be classified in two types as mentioned above IPV - inactivated poliovirus vaccine and OPV oral poliovirus vaccine. IPV is given through injection which is given as a single antigen shot or in combination with other vaccinations. It contains inactivated or dead polio viruses which builds immunity against all three types of polio viruses.
OPV as mentioned above is administered orally and is widely used in the mass campaigns. It contains live, attenuated polio viruses.
Parents must note that, in addition to the polio vaccinations that are prescribed as per vaccination schedule in India, all children below five years of age should be given the doses of OPV on all the National Pulse Polio Days without fail. In this way parents can play their part in eradicating polio from the root.
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- The Indiaparenting Team