Vietnam to ramp up polio vaccination amid high risk

April 11, 2023

Hanoi, April 11 (Agency) : Vietnam is accelerating efforts to vaccinate children against polio amid a global surge in a variant of the the virus, local media reported on Tuesday.

The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology has urged local health authorities to administer polio vaccinations to children, especially those born in 2021 and 2022, reports Xinhua news agency.

As a result of social distancing practices to limit the spread of Covid-19, childhood immunisation rates for polio have dropped to the lowest level in the past 20 years, putting millions of children at risk of exposure to the preventable disease, said the epidemiology institute under the Ministry of Health.

Vietnam uses two types of the vaccine in the fight to eradicate polio, oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) given as a shot in the leg or arm.

Only 69.4 per cent of minors as young as two months old received the oral polio vaccine and 80.4 per cent of eligible five-month-olds got injections of the vaccine in 2021.

The inoculation rates rose in 2022 to 70.1 per cent for oral vaccine and 89.2 per cent for inactivated poliovirus vaccine, said the Health Ministry.

The Unicef recorded the largest decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years in a report published in July 2022 which revealed that 52 out of 63 provinces in Vietnam had failed to meet the required target of reaching 90 percent of children below one year old receiving all recommended routine vaccines.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication in the Western Pacific late last year moved Vietnam from the list of low-risk countries to the list of countries at high risk of importing wild polio.

Vietnam was certified polio-free by the WHO in October 2000.

The Southeast Asian country has managed to implement the Expanded Program on Immunisation nationwide since 1985.

According to the Unicef, it has successfully eradicated polio, eliminated neonatal tetanus, and controlled measles.


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