British Paralympian Ade Adepitan has urged London parents to ensure their children get vaccinated against polio, after the disease resulted in him permanently losing the use of his legs.
The TV presenter and basketball player said the virus had “devastating consequences” for him as he issued an urgent plea for all children aged 1-9 in the capital to get their jab.
Nearly three in four children in the capital are yet to receive a polio booster jab, despite the virus being detected in sewage in June. Polio can cause paralysis and there is currently no cure, but vaccination offers full protection against the disease.
There are currently more than 40 vaccination sites in the capital and the NHS has contacted the parents of all children who are eligible in London.
Speaking about his personal experience Ade said: “Polio can have devastating consequences, which I know all too well. As a small child I contracted polio, I quickly became very unwell, and as a result of the disease taking over my nervous system, I permanently lost the use of my legs. It was lifechanging.
“But polio can be completely prevented through vaccination, which is why it is so important that parents book in to get their children a booster jab at their GP or nearest vaccination site as soon as possible.
“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your children against the disease. To put it simply, if I had been vaccinated when I was exposed to polio, I would not be in a wheelchair now.”
Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London, said: “Although the majority of Londoners are protected against polio due to success of our vaccination programme, the discovery of traces of the virus in sewage samples in parts of the capital means we must all redouble our effort to keep it at bay and do what we can to keep children safe and protected – we mustn’t be complacent.”
Parents of children aged 5 to 9 can book appointments in advance at some sites or simply walk into others without an appointment. Children aged 1 to 4 can get their booster or catch-up dose via their GP practice.