Currently, the polio vaccine is a clear example that sustained immunization plans over time give results, regardless of the detractors. Due to this drug, the serious disease of polio is almost disappeared in the world.
This simple, cheap and widespread method, with proven effectiveness, reduces the transmission of the virus in the general population, both in children and adults. What does it consist of? When is it applied? Below, we detail everything about it.
What is polio?
Polio is a disease caused by poliovirus, of which 3 types are known. One of them has already disappeared, and there are no new records of outbreaks. The other 2 are still active, but with a low incidence rate, as a result of global vaccinations.
A person contracts polio when they come into contact with another infected person, or when the virus uses food to travel and infect. This occurs through the anus-hand-mouth mechanism, which consists of the contamination of drinks and food by fecal matter.
Most of those infected are asymptomatic; that is, they do not show signs of disease. However, the small group with clinical syndromes has the potential to progress to serious complications, such as paralysis.
The paralytic form is the most severe of poliomyelitis. People suffer from the effect on muscle weakness that extends to all regions of the body, including the chest area. It compromises the respiratory dynamics, which leads to death by suffocation.
There is no cure for polio. Therefore, vaccination has come to represent a possible approach to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the virus.
What are the polio vaccines?
Science has managed to develop two versions of polio vaccines. They are known by the name of their creators and are called Sabin and Salk. The first is administered orally and the second, intramuscularly.
The Sabin vaccine is immunization with live attenuated viruses. To achieve this, laboratories provoke genetic mutations in the viral particles to make them less virulent. In this way, once they are inoculated, they can generate symptoms, but very mild. What is not altered is the production of immunity.
A characteristic of the Sabin vaccine is its replication power in the digestive system. This causes the “herd effect”, since those who were inoculated, then expel attenuated particles with their feces that help to immunize the cohabitants of the same household.
The Salk version, as we anticipated, is intramuscular. It is placed, like other vaccines, through a puncture that penetrates the muscle and leaves the substance there. In this case, the viruses are not attenuated but inactive.
The procedure is different, and the result varies a bit compared to the Sabin. The entire intestinal process is not carried out, so this immunization is effective in the prevention of serious forms of the disease. Still, it does not have a herd effect, nor does it prevent individuals from carrying the virus in their digestive system.
Who should get the polio vaccine?
The indications for vaccination against polio vary from country to country. The States prepare protocols for the administration of immunizations according to local epidemiology and current legislation. In any case, in general terms, the majority agree on the following:
- Children must be given a repetitive scheme to achieve immunity. They are the population group over which the greatest danger hangs, so the objective is to reach them all, in one way or another.
- The usual doses are 5. It is placed at 2 months, then at 4 and 6, to continue at 18 months and the last dose at 6 years. The dates may vary slightly, never get ahead.
In the case of adults, there is less consensus. If it is certified that as a child, you have not received the corresponding scheme, then similar placements are made to the children’s intervals. Those who travel to countries with a high prevalence of polio and health professionals who work with patients with the disease should also be immunized.
Possible side effects
Generally speaking, the polio vaccine, in any version, has few adverse effects. Most of them target the injection site when it is Salk, and consist of redness and swelling.
With the Sabin version of immunization, mild gastrointestinal symptoms are consisting of diarrhoea, some nausea and even a fever below 37.5ºC. This table is self-limited and does not exceed 48 hours.
Some reports have reported more serious reactions, of which the allergic reaction is the most worrisome. Fortunately, there are not so many cases, and it is estimated that there is around 1 adverse event per 1 million inhabitants.
An effective vaccine available in the world
The polio vaccine is a very effective way to prevent this disease. There are not so many pathologies that have this property of being easily avoided if the immunization scheme is followed.
For this reason, it is key that countries and individuals increase their efforts to carry out this vaccination. There is very little time to eradicate polio from the planet fully, and it would be a waste of decades of work to go back.
If you have small children, check with your nearest health center how to arrange vaccination. If you are an adult, check your calendars to verify that you are up to date. In the immunization rooms of hospitals, they have the appropriate information to advise you.