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‘Make sure your polio vaccine is up to date’ officials warn as the virus returns to the UK

Fitness & Health:

Polio has been detected for the first time since the early-1980s in North London. In response, the UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency) has declared a national incident and opened an investigation into localised transmission of the virus. Although polio has only just made a return to the nation’s shores, the polio vaccination has long been a key part of early childhood for those born after 1984; the vaccine forms part of a raft of vaccines administered to children in their early years. Health officials are now advising the public to make sure they’re up to date on their vaccines.

In a statement, Dr Vanessa Saliba, of the UKHSA, said: “Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower.

“On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your Red Book.

“Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination in childhood, but in some communities with low vaccine coverage, individuals may remain at risk.”

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Because London has lower polio vaccination rates than other areas in the country, Londoners are being encouraged to check their records.

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Chief nurse for NHS London, Jane Clegg said the NHS was already taking action: “The majority of Londoners are fully protected against Polio and won’t need to take any further action, but the NHS will begin reaching out to parents of children aged under 5 in London who are not up to date with their Polio vaccinations to invite them to get protected.

“Meanwhile, parents can also check their child’s vaccination status in their Red Book and people should contact their GP surgery to book a vaccination, should they or their child not be fully up to date.”

While the vast majority of people will be fine, not everyone will be.

Polio can cause a range of complications including muscle weakness, problems with joints, and difficulty swallowing.

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Those mainly affected are sexually active young men who have sex with other men.

However, it is important to note anyone of any gender or sexuality can become infected with monkeypox.

Scientists and health officials are looking to reduce the risk of stigmatisation through nuanced public health messaging and a renaming of the virus.

These viral revivals come as the UK battles the latest wave of coronavirus.

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