Nepal likely to face shortage of injectable polio vaccine

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Oct 3, 2016-

Nepal is set to run out of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) stocks in the next few months following a global shortage, which could see over 150,000 children missing out on the immunisation against all types of polio viruses.

Public health experts, however, rule out chances of resurfacing of polio virus and affecting the children just because they will not be administered IPV for a few months. While the IPV might be unavailable for children for around eight months, they will, however, be administered oral polio vaccine that protects them against Type-1 and Type-3 polio virus.

The government had launched IPV vaccine in September 2014 after a decision to withdraw trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (tOPV) that was effective against all three types of polio virus. Type-2 polio has been eradicated in 1999 and no new cases have been reported since. But the use of tOPV was frequently linked with vaccine-associated with the paralytic polio (VAPP)--a condition where children develop paralysis.

“We have stocks of IPV that can be used till December,” Dr Rajendra Pant, director of Child Health Division, told a press meet in the Capital on Sunday.

According to Dr Pant, only two manufacturers produce IPV and they have failed to keep up with the demands for the vaccine which have surged dramatically after it was agreed to recall tOPV from across the globe.

Dr Pant said the IPV stock will be replenished only in September 2017. 

Polio received a particular focus since 1996 when the government started marking National Immunisation Day. Around 630,000 newborns are administered with anti-polio drops every year, according to the CHD.

Dr Ramesh Kanta Adhikari, chairperson of the National Committee on Immunisation Practices, a technical advisory committee on immunisation of the government, said people should not panic that their child did not get the IPV. “Put it this way: we are being extra careful by administering the IPV because we want to protect people against all types of polio viruses,” said Dr Adhikari. “The world has not witnessed resurfacing of Type-2 polio for long. The threat is of Type-1 and Type-3 polio and we will administer the vaccine regularly.”

The government has been providing the OPV to children in three doses at week 6, 10 and 14 respectively. Following the inception of the IPV, it is administered at week 14 along with the OPV. Nepal was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization on March 27, 2014 after maintaining zero polio case for the past three years.

Published: 03-10-2016 07:36

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