High risk of polio outbreak in Ukraine, health ministry warns
Ukraine's Health Ministry says the country is at high risk of a polio outbreak.
"The European Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (RCC) assessed the risk of transmission of the infection in case of import of wild poliovirus or the emergence of a derivative vaccine poliovirus (cVDPV) in the 41st country of the region. The risk in Ukraine was classified as high," as reported by the Health Ministry's Public Health Center on Facebook.
It is noted that over the five months of this year, only 30% of children in their first year of life requiring mandatory vaccinations received all three doses.
"The percentage of polio vaccination coverage in Ukraine is not enough to reach 95% by the end of the year. Vaccination is the only way to protect against complications caused by poliomyelitis," reads the report.
"According to recommendations of the World Health Organization, if a sufficient number of people get vaccinated in the country (over 95%), the spread of the virus will cease. And, vice versa, if children remain unvaccinated, this could lead to the spread of the virus and new cases of the disease," the center said.
The Public Health Center reiterated that polio is an acute infectious disease. Poliovirus spreads from person to person through feces and saliva, most often through dirty hands, infected food and water.
Doctors say every unvaccinated child and adult might get polio, but children under the age of five are most susceptible to the poliovirus. Therefore, children receive their first vaccination in the first months of life.
"Poliomyelitis is characterized by damage to the central neural system and paralysis that could lead to death. Polio cannot be cured... About 5% of patients die, mostly due to respiratory disorders as a result of paralysis of respiratory muscles," the report says.
"One out of 200 patients has developed spinal and limb deformities that cause disability. Other threatening complications of poliomyelitis include pneumonia, myocarditis, severe gastrointestinal disorders with bleeding, ulcers, intestinal obstruction... However, vaccination prevents this deadly disease," the center said.
According to the Public Health Center, over 78% of children under one year of age were vaccinated in Ukraine in 2019. The same was reported among children under the age of 18 months, while coverage of children from six to 14 years old was a little more than 80%.
Vaccines for children are free of charge.