National polio vaccine campaign reaches total of 170,000 so far

Ministry criticizes "media sensationalism" of effects from vaccine on children with weak immune systems.

polio vaccine illustrative 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas)
polio vaccine illustrative 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas)
Some 170,000 children around the country out of a total of one million have already received an oral polio vaccine in a campaign due to proceed over the next three months. The Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that 35,000 had received two drops of OPV that day. This brought the total of the national campaign to 74,000 children during the past three days, in addition to the more urgent vaccination effort, now in its third week, being held in the south of the country, where the wild polio virus was found in sewage and in a few dozen carriers.
No one has taken sick with the paralytic disease since the virus was first detected in sewage treatment plants in February.
The ministry criticized sensational headlines in some of the news media on Monday and Tuesday that claimed “thousands” of children with weak immune systems due to chronic diseases ranging from cancer to AIDS would be prohibited from going to school until six weeks after the end of the three-month vaccination campaign.
The ministry said that only a few hundred children who had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant, suffered from active leukemia or had a shortage of gamma globulin in their blood should not go to school – which they are not able to attend regularly because of their situation – until that date because their severely compromised immune systems could put them at risk from the attenuated virus in the oral vaccine.
The ministry declared that children who had received at least three injected killedpolio virus vaccinations, which protected them from the paralytic disease, could go to school when classes opened. In addition, medical staffers with weak immune systems could also go to work.
All groups should observe basic rules of hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water after visiting the toilet or being in contact with dirty diapers, as well as before preparing and eating meals.