Please find important information for you and your family following today’s announcement from The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), that all children aged one to nine in London are offered a polio booster vaccine.
The NHS in NW London/your local GP practice will be in touch soon to offer your child (aged one to nine) a polio vaccine booster.
Please do not contact your GP surgery at this time, we will contact parents when it’s your child’s turn to come forward for a booster or catch-up polio dose.
When your child is invited for the vaccine It’s important all children aged one to nine, even if up-to-date with their vaccinations, accept this vaccine when offered to further strengthen their protection against the poliovirus.
Boosters for children will ensure a high level of protection from paralysis and help reduce further spread of the virus. Nationally the overall risk of paralytic polio is considered low because most people are protected from this by vaccination.
The programme will start with the areas affected, where the poliovirus has been detected and vaccination rates are low. This will be followed by rapid rollout across all NW London boroughs.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UK Health Security Agancy (UKHSA) said: “No cases of polio have been reported and for the majority of the population, who are fully vaccinated, the risk is low. But we know the areas in London where the poliovirus is being transmitted have some of the lowest vaccination rates. This is why the virus is spreading in these communities and puts those residents not fully vaccinated at greater risk.
“Polio is a serious infection that can cause paralysis but nationally the overall risk is considered low because most people are protected by vaccination. The last case of polio in the UK was in 1984, but decades ago before we introduced the polio vaccination programme around 8000 people would develop paralysis every year.
“It is vital parents ensure their children are fully vaccinated for their age. Following JCVI advice all children aged one to nine years in London need to have a dose of polio vaccine now – whether it’s an extra booster dose or just to catch up with their routine vaccinations. It will ensure a high level of protection from paralysis. This may also help stop the virus spreading further.”
Jane Clegg, Chief Nurse for the NHS in London said: “While the majority of Londoners are protected from polio, the NHS will shortly be contacting parents of eligible children aged one to nine years old to offer them a top-up dose to ensure they have maximum protection from the virus.
“We are already reaching out to parents and carers of children who aren’t up to date with their routine vaccinations, who can book a catch-up appointment with their GP surgery now and for anyone not sure of their child’s vaccination status, they can check their Red Book.”
The UKHSA, working with the MHRA, has already increased sewage surveillance to assess the extent of spread of the virus and are currently sampling eight further sites across London. A further 15 sites in London will start sewage sampling in mid-August, and 10 -15 sites will be stood up nationally to determine if poliovirus is spreading outside of London.