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To ensure immunization of children in 2024, 340 thousand doses of oral polio vaccine were delivered to Ukraine

30 January 2024

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. Vaccinations according to the schedule are free of charge and can be made in medical institutions in each oblast.

“By the end of 2023, the polio vaccination coverage rate in different age groups exceeded 80%, but according to WHO recommendations, the indicator that shows the protection of the population from vaccine-preventable infections through vaccination should be 95%. Despite the full-scale war, the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with international partners, ensures the uninterrupted availability of vaccines for routine vaccination at the level of each oblast, so that newborns can receive all mandatory vaccinations in the maternity hospital, and children and adults can get them at a family doctor or vaccination center. A full course of vaccination allows you to build immunity for life. That is why it is important to check your vaccination status and, if you have missed a vaccination, see a doctor and catch up,” 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. Every child should receive six doses of polio vaccine by the age of 14. This is how you build immunity to the disease. Vaccinations are administered at 2, 4 (IPV), then at 6 and 18 months, 6 and 14 years (OPV) and provide lifelong protection.

“It is extremely important to protect children in Ukraine against vaccine-preventable diseases. The health of children in Ukraine, as elsewhere, is of the highest value. We urge parents to protect their families. If you have come to vaccinate your child against polio, it is important to get all other vaccinations according to the schedule. And if you missed the vaccination according to the schedule, it is very important to catch up with the missed vaccination,” said Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

There is no cure for polio, and polio vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease. The most vulnerable to polio are children under 5 who have not been vaccinated and, accordingly, have no immunity to the virus.

340,000 doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) have been delivered by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with the support of the United States Agency for International Development to support the National Immunization Program of Ukraine. The storage and delivery of the vaccine received from international partners as humanitarian aid to the regions is supported by the SAFEMed project, USAID Ukraine — Safe and Affordable Medicines for Ukrainians.

It should be recalled that vaccines for routine vaccination are purchased from the state budget. Some vaccines are supplied by international partners at the request of the state in case of increased demand or emergencies.

Free vaccinations against 10 infectious diseases are included in the preventive vaccination schedule. In particular, a child must be vaccinated against such diseases as tuberculosis, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Hib infection.