Polio can be life-threatening, and although experts at the UK Health Security Agency say the risk to the public overall is "extremely low" after a strain was found in a London sewage sample, they are urging people who are not fully vaccinated to contact their GP.
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According to the latest Public Health England statistics for 2020/21, in Lancashire, 88.1 per cent of children reaching their first birthday were reported to have completed their primary DTaP/IPV/Hib course. This is below the target of 90 per cent coverage, and also significantly lower than England (92 per cent).
In Blackburn with Darwen, the figure was 86.2 per cent of eligible children but in Blackpool, it was above the local target and statistically similar to England at 93.4 per cent.
In Lancashire overall, 92.4 per cent of children were reaching their second birthday with completed courses of DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, which was above the local target of 90 per cent but below England (93.8 per cent).
Again in Blackburn with Darwen, the figure was lower at 88.3 per cent and in Blackpool it was 94.3 per cent.
The UK is considered by the World Health Organization to be polio-free, with low-risk for polio transmission due to the high level of vaccine coverage across the population. However, vaccine coverage for childhood vaccines has decreased nationally over the past few years, so UKHSA is urging people to check they are up to date with their vaccines.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA said: “Vaccine-derived poliovirus is rare and the risk to the public overall is extremely low.
"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.”