Fiji will remain Polio Free
The Ministry of Health and Medical services will launch the improvised Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) on the 17th of this month to strengthen the fight against Polio.
Polio is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system of young children in particular. The virus can paralyze and sometimes kill. There is no cure for polio, but vaccines can prevent the spread of the virus.
Fiji has remained polio free since the Western Pacific region was declared polio-free in 2000. The last laboratory confirmed polio case in Fiji was in 1958. However, all countries remain at risk of polio re-infection, until the disease is destroyed completely, everywhere. There are currently 10 countries in the world which are at risk.
Currently the vaccine for polio is Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Both OPV and IPV vaccines are very safe and protect children from paralysis, but in different ways.
OPV is a live vaccine that is taken orally in drops. IPV is given through an injection. OPV builds immunity in the gut. IPV provides immunity in the blood.
When used together, both OPV and IPV can stop the person-to-person spread of Polio. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has endorsed the Polio End-Game Strategic Plan (2013-2018) also endorsed by the World Health Assembly.
Parents are advised to have their children immunized at 6, 10, and 14 weeks to protect them from Polio, as children under five years of age are most at risk of the virus if they are not fully vaccinated.