The government has finally put to rest the uncertainty over the National Immunisation Day. The next round of National Immunisation Day (NID) is going to be held on March 10, Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told Business Today. According to Sudan, there is no shortage of polio vaccine and the government has already secured the required quantity of bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) for the programme.
However, she also informed that to ensure availability of safe and quality vaccine during NID, the testing of bOPV has been made more stringent and it is getting tested at Kasauli (the government testing laboratory).
The NID is a campaign approach to deal with polio and came to focus recently when some reports surfaced saying that shortage of polio vaccine was the reason the government was delaying the NID. The government, however, on Thursday, January 24th put out a release denying these reports and said they were false.
The government also clarified in the note that there is neither shortage of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) nor any shortage of funds for its procurement for Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) in the country. IPV is generally believed to be more expensive than OPV. Pointing to the success so far, it says, "India has eliminated polio already and as per global guidelines, introduced IPV in its Universal Immunisation Program to safeguard the polio free status, as there are few countries where polio virus is still circulating and Polio is yet to be eliminated.''
India has a birth cohort of 26 million, which is the number of new births every year. Under the routine immunisation programme, along with oral polio vaccine-OPV, and the inactivated or chilled injectable-IPV is given to the children. India follows a mix of sequential schedule for this. Since April 2016, bOPV is being given and since November 2015, IPV is being given under routine immunisation programme in limited number of states. But by April this year, according to a senior officer, the plan is to give it nationwide.
IPV was launched in India in November 2015 as part of India's commitment to the "Global Polio Endgame Strategy". In the first phase this vaccine was introduced in six states-Assam, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. IPV injection is to be given to children below one year of age along with the third dose of OPV at the routine immunisation sessions free of cost. Globally, the plan is to remove all OPVs in the long run and with it the rare risk of vaccine-associated paralytic polio. The argument being that IPV along with OPV will further strengthen the children's immune system and will provide double protection against polio.
The decision to switch to IPV and bOPV from trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (tOPV), given earlier in all polio campaigns and routine immunisation in India from April 2016, was taken following certification of global eradication of type 2 wild poliovirus.
In India, the last Type 2 wild polio virus case was detected in the year 1999. The tOPV that was used till April 2016 contained three types of poliovirus vaccines (P1, P2 and P3) and protected against all three types of wild polioviruses-type 1, type 2 and type 3. While bOPV contains two types of poliovirus vaccines (P1 and P3) and protects against type 1 and type 3 wild polioviruses. Type 2 component from oral polio vaccine was removed as a part of global polio end game strategy.