Parents and carers in Croydon are being urged to ensure that their children get their polio vaccine booster dose.
NHS England says 157,000 London children have been vaccinated against polio since August, when the NHS set up more than 40 vaccination sites across the capital to make vaccination even easier.
Parents can find their nearest vaccination site and opening times through the NHS website: nhs.uk/polio-sites.
The NHS is offering all children in London aged from one to nine years old an inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) booster dose in line with last month’s recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
The programme started in eight boroughs in north and east London where poliovirus has been detected in sewage water, but has been rapidly expanded across all boroughs.
Polio is caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person. It usually spreads through contact with the faeces of an infected person. For example, from people not washing their hands properly and putting them in their mouth, or from contaminated food or water. It can also spread through coughs or sneezes, but this is less common.
Community pharmacies are among the additional sites now administering the polio vaccine, giving families more convenient options to get their children vaccinated.
Parents of children aged from five to nine years old can book appointments at some sites or simply walk into others without an appointment.
GP practices have been offering booster and catch-up doses of the polio vaccine to children aged from one to nine years.
Parents of eligible children aged one to four should continue to get their booster or catch-up dose via their GP practice.
Dr Seilesh Kadambari, Consultant in paediatric infectious diseases at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “As a paediatrician, I regularly see and treat children who are poorly from a range of nasty illnesses, some of which can’t be prevented. However, polio is a vaccine-preventable disease from which you can protect your child.
“I’d urge parents to do this as soon as possible. Don’t let polio into your child’s life.”
Mahfuz Rahman, 35, who lives in east London, contracted polio when he was around two years old and has lived with a shorter and weaker left leg since.
“Walking is difficult, and I’ve never been able to run or take part in sports like football. Polio has limited the life I lead and though I’m only 35 now, I can already see new polio symptoms starting to develop, like fatigue and muscle pain.
“Any parent offered a booster or catch-up dose of the polio vaccine by the NHS should take it – we don’t want to see any polio cases in London.
“Vaccination is the best way to protect children and stop the virus spreading. Otherwise, you risk catching polio and living a limited life with limb damage, pain, fatigue and muscle weakness. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
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