NHS ramps up polio jab campaign in London with 40 new vaccination sites

·2-min read
Vials of the polio vaccine (Stock image)  (PA Archive)
Vials of the polio vaccine (Stock image) (PA Archive)

The NHS has expanded the number of sites where children aged 5 to 9 can receive their polio vaccination as the health service ramps up measures to contain the spread of the virus.

More than 40 new sites have been opened across the capital, NHS London announced on Thursday.

Community pharmacies are now among the additional sites administering the vaccine, though parents of eligible children aged 1 to 4 are still urged to organise a booster shot via their GP practice.

The NHS is offering all children in London aged 1 to 9 an inactivated (IPV) booster dose following a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

It comes after the virus was detected in sewage water in eight boroughs in north and east London in June. There have been no official cases confirmed cases since.

Polio, which was officially eradicated in the UK in 2003, can cause paralysis in rare cases and can be life-threatening. It usually spreads through contact with the faeces of an infected person, such as contaminated food or water.

The last confirmed case was in 1984, but the virus has since been kept at bay through a routine childhood vaccination programme.

Jane Clegg, Chief Nurse for the NHS in London, said: “We’re committed to doing all we can to protect children and those living in London from the threat of polio which is why we’ve expanded the sites where children can receive their polio vaccination.

“The NHS has now contacted all parents in London with children aged 1 to 9 years old to come forward for a booster or catch-up dose of the polio vaccine, and we encourage them to take up the offer as soon as possible.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “Mass polio vaccination centres will play a critical role in ensuring the booster doses can be rapidly and conveniently distributed. I urge all parents of children aged one to nine to ensure they take up the opportunity to boost or vaccinate their child as soon as possible.”