Polio Day on March 3, 2024: A nationwide Pulse Polio Immunization drive to administer polio vaccine to children below the age of 5 will be conducted on March 3, Sunday across the country in all districts on Polio Day. The preparation for the polio immunization drive is on in full swings and health authorities in several states from Tamil Nadu, Gurgaon, Madhya Pradesh, to Nagaland have set up thousands of polio booths and have been training volunteers for the administration of polio vaccine to children. (Also read | Post-Polio Syndrome: Causes, symptoms and promising treatment options)

Polio Day on March 3, 2024: Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects the nervous system.
Polio Day on March 3, 2024: Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects the nervous system.

India had launched Pulse Polio immunization programme with Universal Immunization Program aiming at 100% coverage in the year 1995 following the Global Polio Eradication Initiative of the World Health Organization. On January 13, 2023, India completes 12 polio-free years.

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Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects the nervous system. Understanding this debilitating disease and the importance of polio immunization is crucial in protecting the health and well-being of our children.

What is polio and its symptoms?

Polio has been around since time immemorial as the disease has been even depicted in ancient tomb paintings. According to mayoclinic, polio is an illness caused by a virus that mainly affects nerves in the spinal cord or brain stem. It is transmitted through contaminated water or food or contact with an infected person and even cause paralysis. Most people infected with polio do not get any symptoms. For those who experience symptoms, polio begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache, sore throat, loss of appetite, nausea etc. One can be affected by paralytic or non-paralytic polio. Paralytic polio starts typically with the same kind of symptoms like non-paralytic polio, but soon progresses to intense pain, extreme sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness and spasm. It may lead to paralysis of leg or arm.

“Polio is caused by the poliovirus and typically spreads through contaminated food, water, or contact with an infected person. The virus attacks the nervous system, potentially leading to paralysis, and in severe cases, it can be fatal. Initial symptoms may resemble those of the flu, including fever, headache, and muscle pain. However, in more serious cases, the virus can cause permanent muscle weakness or paralysis, especially in the limbs,” says Dr Saurabh Khanna, Lead Consultant, paediatric & Neonatology& C K Birla Hospital, Gurgaon.

Importance of polio immunization

As per CDC, children should get four doses of polio vaccine. The first dose should be administered when they are 2 months old, then 4 months old. The next doses should be administered 6 months through 18 months old, and 4 through 6 years old.

Dr Khanna shares five benefits of immunization of your kid with polio:

1. Preventing the spread of polio: Immunization is the most effective way to prevent the spread of the poliovirus. By ensuring that your child receives the recommended doses of the polio vaccine, you contribute to creating a protective barrier against the virus in the community.

2. Eradicating polio globally: The commitment to polio immunization plays a vital role in the global effort to eradicate this disease. Through widespread vaccination campaigns, significant strides have been made, with several countries successfully eliminating polio. Continued vaccination efforts are essential to achieving a polio-free world.

3. Protecting unvaccinated individuals: Immunization not only safeguards the vaccinated individuals but also helps protect those who cannot receive the vaccine, such as infants or individuals with certain medical conditions. This concept of community or herd immunity is a crucial aspect of preventing outbreaks.

4. Long-term health and well-being: The consequences of polio can be severe and life-altering. By ensuring your child receives the recommended polio vaccinations, you are investing in their long-term health and well-being, minimizing the risk of enduring the debilitating effects of the disease.

5. Economic benefits: Polio can place a significant economic burden on individuals, families, and communities. The costs associated with medical treatment, rehabilitation, and loss of productivity can be overwhelming. Immunization is a cost-effective strategy to prevent the financial strain caused by polio-related illnesses.


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