PESHAWAR, Nov 1: Exposing the inefficacy of oral polio vaccine (OPV), a Swabi child has tested positive for polio despite being administered seven doses of vaccines over a period of time, health officials said here on Tuesday.
Official sources told Dawn that the National Institute of Health, Islamabad had found poliovirus in the blood of Asif Khan, 27-month-old son of Azeem Shah, a resident Narangi in Razar tehsil of Swabi district.
According to them, also in the day, reported another new polio case in North Waziristan agency, taking the number of children hit by the crippling disease this year to 12 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 38 in Fata and 136 in the country.
The officials said nearly half of the new cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata had contracted polio despite receiving OPV raising doubts in the people’s minds about its efficacy.
They feared that the people living in the areas where such cases were reported might turn vaccinators away.
Officials said only five of the seven new polio cases in the province couldn’t be given polio drops due to their parents’ refusal for one reason or the other, adding that the remaining received up to seven doses of vaccines.
A few years ago, a Peshawar lawyer questioned OPV efficacy but the health department didn’t heed it.
When contacted, Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, focal person for polio eradication in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Dawn that OPV should be administered to children in every immunisation campaign until they reached the age of five years.
He said despite vaccination, children were at the risk of contracting polio as OPV was administered to increase their immunity to the crippling disease and that there was no guarantee in presence of other viruses that they won’t contract polio.
Dr Imtiaz said OPV remained didn’t produce intended effects if the child suffered from diarrhoea, low mineral level or low immunity.
“During immunisation campaigns, vaccinators ask parents about the number of polio doses their children had. And many of them tell a lie,” he said.
The focal person said the programme had cut the number of new polio cases by half in the province from 24 last year to 12 this year so far.
He expressed concern about the growing cases of refusal of polio vaccine administration and declared it a dangerous trend but hastened to add that many strategies had been made to end it.