LAHORE - Most of the polio victims last year received seven or more doses of vaccine, raising question that whether improved vaccination coverage will be enough to eradicate the crippling virus from the country.

“There are only few positive cases of zero, one or two doses of oral polio vaccine and that too from restive areas of FATA. With the exception of 2-3 victims who received five doses or less, rest of the children received seven plus OPV doses”, said an official who wanted not to be quoted.

He went on to state that improved vaccine coverage was not a guarantee to protect children against the crippling virus until or unless other preconditions were not fulfilled.

As many as 54 polio cases were reported from across the country during 2015 including two from the biggest federating unit, Punjab.

The govt is focusing on improving coverage of Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) to save children below five years of age from falling prey to polio virus.

Reports of children getting polio even after receiving sufficient doses (seven plus) of vaccine raised question that whether the menace could be controlled by improving EPI coverage alone.

“The govt carried out repeated vaccination campaigns during the last year. First four doses in routine immunisation are vital in improving immunity against polio. These could not be covered through multiple doses in later stage. As such improving routine immunisation and giving four doses to a child before he reaches six month is more important than carrying out multiple campaigns”, he said.

“Maintenance of cold chain is vital in keeping the efficacy of vaccine. There is need of focusing on maintaining cold chain from the warehouse to the doorsteps in far flung areas”, he said.

“Polio vaccine provides 85 per cent security against virus if administered to a normal child. Malnutrition and co morbidities like diarrhoea, dysentery and fever are major reasons behind children getting polio even after getting multiple doses of vaccine. These children with weak immunity fail to produce antibodies (shield against polio) from the vaccine. As such they are not immune and can get polio if attacked by the virus. There is need of maintaining cold chain, improving diet and monitoring condition of children before and after administering polio vaccine. Vaccine is useless if administered to a child with bad stomach or if he/she vomits after getting the dose. Proper training of vaccinators is a key to achieve desired results from vaccination. ”, he said.