It’s true, polio has been eliminated in the United States.
But that doesn’t mean that we can stop vaccinating kids against polio yet.
Why Do We Still Vaccinate If Polio Has Been Eliminated?
For one thing, the last polio case in the United States was a lot more recent than 40 years ago.
What happened 40 years ago?
That was when we had the last endemic case of polio in the United States, in 1979. After that, in addition to cases of VAPP, there were at least 6 cases of imported paralytic poliomyelitis. In fact, the last case of wild polio in the United States was in 1993, just 26 years ago.
And just ten years ago, in 2009, was the very last case of VAPP, a patient with a long-standing combined immunodeficiency who was probably infected in the late 1990s, even though she didn’t develop paralysis until years later.
But still, why couldn’t we stop vaccinating against polio in the United States, even though polio isn’t eradicated yet? After all, we stopped using the smallpox vaccine in 1972, before smallpox was declared eradicated (1980).
That is the polio eradication and endgame strategic plan.
Over the next few years, the world will hopefully switch to using just the injectable form of the polio vaccines, which eliminates the risk of VAPP.
But if we are so close, why not just stop vaccinating in those parts of the world that don’t have polio?
Because we are so close to eradicating polio.
Why take the risk of polio spreading from one of the remaining endemic countries, paralyzing kids, and putting eradication efforts further behind?
Of course not!
Let’s continue the work and eradicate polio, once and for all!
And for the record – we don’t pump “kids full of polio” when we give them a polio vaccine. The polio shot is an inactivated vaccine, so doesn’t contain live polio virus.
More on Why Do We Still Vaccinate If Polio Has Been Eliminated?
- VAXOPEDIA – The Myth That Polio Only Went Away Because They Changed the Way It Was Diagnosed
- VAXOPEDIA – Is There a DDT-Polio Connection?
- VAXOPEDIA – Polio Survivor Stories
- VAXOPEDIA – What is Provocation Polio?
- VAXOPEDIA – Did Modern Ventilators Replace the Iron Lung for Folks with Polio?
- VAXOPEDIA – How Quickly Can You Debunk Anti-Vaccine Propaganda?
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are the DPT and OPV Vaccines Still Used in Some Countries?
- VAXOPEDIA – Milestones Towards the Eradication of Polio
- MMWR – Paralytic Poliomyelitis — United States, 1980-1994
- Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018
- WHO – 10 facts on polio eradication
- About the Polio Endgame Strategic Plan
- Rationale and timelines for OPV withdrawal
- Polio Eradication and Beyond: What the Polio Endgame Means for Public Health
- CDC – Updates on CDC’s Polio Eradication Efforts
- CDC – Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program
- CDC – What Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations?
- What Happens When We Don’t Vaccinate?
- WHO – “Vaccine-preventable diseases have been virtually eliminated from my country, so there is no need for my child to be vaccinated.”
- Welcome to Poliopolis – An nOPV2 Clinical Trial