Polio: why vaccination instead of oral vaccination?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set itself the goal of eradicating polio. This goal is achievable, as the transmission of poliomyelitis virus occurs exclusively from human to human and effective vaccines are available. Extensive vaccination campaigns in developing countries where the disease is still occurring and maintaining adequate vaccination coverage in industrialized countries should help to achieve this goal.

Europe still not completely free of polio

After the last WHO registered in Europe in 1998 occurred in a 33-month-old child in Turkey, Europe was declared a polio-free zone in June 2002. However, when two new cases were reported in south-western Ukraine in September 2015, this was considered a huge setback.

The vaccination therefore remains very important, as even in non-European countries, polio still occurs or re-occurs. The disease can also be introduced by infected tourists or emigrants.

Transmission of polio

Polio is an acute, communicable infectious disease. About one week after the beginning of the infection, the virus is eliminated with the nasopharyngeal secretion, followed by - for a further three to six weeks - the virus excretion in the stool. During this period, the disease can be transmitted to another person.

The vaccines against polio

In order to prevent polio reoccurring in Germany, every adult should have adequate vaccination coverage. Against the pathogen of polio there are two vaccines: the oral vaccine and the injection vaccine.

  • Poliovirus-live vaccine according to SABIN (OPV), the so-called oral vaccine. The oral vaccine is taken by mouth and therefore referred to as oral vaccination. In the oral vaccine, a live but attenuated live vaccine is administered. These trigger an intestinal infection with the attenuated viruses. In this way, vaccinated people can also infect other people with the vaccine viruses. In addition, in a live vaccine increased side effects may occur.
  • The inactive poliovirus vaccine according to SALK (IPV), which is injected under the skin or into the muscle. The vaccine by injection is a dead vaccine. The vaccine is very safe and there are virtually no side effects - the administered viruses are just not capable of reproduction.

Since January 1998, the "Permanent Vaccination Commission" recommends the polio vaccine for the reasons mentioned above only by injection with the dead vaccine (IPV) according to SALK®.

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