About 157 thousand doses of polio vaccine delivered to Ukraine
The vaccine will be distributed among the regions for routine vaccination. UNICEF has delivered 156,960 doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to support the National Immunization Program in Ukraine. The polio vaccine was delivered as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
“The only reliable way to prevent polio is through vaccination. As part of the Ministry of Health's cooperation with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), we systematically provide vaccination points across the country with the necessary vaccine. Ukraine responded appropriately to the polio outbreak at the end of 2021 and, despite the challenges of wartime, provided the necessary polio control and additional vaccination measures. However, the threat of polio spreading remains and has even increased due to the war, as at least 144,000 more vaccinations have not been completed as part of the forced immunization campaign to vaccinate children against IPV polio. Therefore, it is important to provide vaccination services to all children who need them,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by the polio virus that affects the nervous system and can lead to paralysis or even death. Anyone who has not been vaccinated, both adults and children, can get polio. There is no cure for polio, but it can be effectively prevented by vaccination.
This year in April, UNICEF delivered 543,000 doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and 110,160 doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to protect Ukrainian children from serious illness. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health and its partners, UNICEF supports Ukraine in vaccinating children against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Due to the war and massive displacement, many people have missed routine vaccinations and often do not have access to medical services. That is why it is extremely important to catch up on all missed vaccinations,” said Murat Sahin, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
Six doses of polio vaccine - at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, 6 years, and 14 years - provide lifelong protection. However, when routine vaccinations are missed, this protection is significantly reduced, so it is very important to catch up.
“We urge parents to prioritize the protection of their children from poliovirus through vaccination, as this is the most reliable protection against infection. Our call is especially relevant against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Despite the difficult circumstances, the healthcare system continues to function, and the Ministry of Health and its partners are working tirelessly to ensure access to essential services, medicines, including vaccines, to preserve the well-being of communities and every individual citizen,” said Dr. Jarno Habicht, WHO Representative in Ukraine.
Polio is one of the 10 vaccine-preventable diseases and is included in the National Vaccination Schedule, which is free of charge.
In October 2021, the first case of polio was recorded in Ukraine in the Rivne oblast. In January 2022, a case of acute flaccid paralysis was diagnosed in a child from Zakarpattia. Even one case of such a dangerous disease is classified as an outbreak in the country.
In May, members of the international OBRA mission, together with experts from the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health, visited Chernihiv, Zhytomyr and Kyiv oblasts. The mission noted that Ukraine responded appropriately to the polio outbreak at the end of 2021 and, despite the challenges of wartime, provided the necessary control to eliminate the polio outbreak and introduce additional vaccination measures.