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240 thousand doses of oral polio vaccine delivered to Ukraine

5 August 2023

Polio is a dangerous disease caused by the poliovirus. It affects the nervous system and can lead to incurable paralysis and death. Polio is one of the 10 vaccine-preventable diseases against which vaccinations are included in the National Vaccination Schedule. They are free of charge.

“A full course of vaccination allows building immunity for life. Today, the coverage of children with preventive vaccinations, in particular against three dangerous diseases - measles, tetanus and polio - does not reach the recommended indicators of the annual plan. The vaccine is available in sufficient quantities at the regional level. Therefore, I draw the attention of parents and family doctors to inform those who have missed the recommended vaccinations and invite them for vaccination, as it is important to provide it to all children who have missed or need vaccination,” said Deputy Minister of Health, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin.

Two types of vaccines are used to protect against the poliovirus in Ukraine: inactivated (IPV), which is administered as injections, and oral (OPV), which is given as drops in the mouth. The drops build up immunity in the child’s intestines, thus stopping the spread of the infection.

UNICEF delivered 240,000 doses of oral polio vaccine to Ukraine as humanitarian aid to support the National Immunization Program. 

“It is crucial to ensure uninterrupted access to life-saving vaccines for children and adults in Ukraine and to maintain high levels of routine immunization coverage. Every child has the right to proper medical services. With the ongoing war and forced displacement, gaps in immunization coverage pose a threat to children’s health. We must make sure that children who have missed their routine vaccinations have the opportunity to catch up,” said Murat Sahin, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

Every child should receive six doses of polio vaccine by the age of 14. This is how immunity to the disease can be built up. The vaccinations are given at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months, 6 and 14 years of age and provide lifelong protection.

The storage and delivery of the received vaccine to the regions is supported by the USAID Ukraine – “Safe and Affordable Medicines for Ukrainians” USAID Ukraine project.