The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) has asked all vaccination units at private healthcare facilities to review their polio immunisation schedules in line with the new guidelines of World Health Organisation (WHO).
Based on the WHO polio endgame strategy to stop trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (tOPV) use globally, the National Immunisation and Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) committee at WHO has agreed to switch from tOPV to bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) from this year, according a circular issued by the SCH.
According to the Qatar National tOPV-bOPV switch plan approved by the committee, April 15 has been selected as the “national switch date” when tOPV use will be stopped.
The “national switch validation date” will be April 30 by which all tOPV must be collected and destroyed, said the circular. The SCH has also issued an updated national immunisation schedule for the year.
Qatar has eliminated polio since 1990, but continues to be at moderate risk of transmission due to outbreaks and polio endemic countries in the region. High population immunity is required for successful switch and gradual withdrawal of tOPV from the national immunisation programme.
The programme introduced the first dose of IPV with the Hexavalent vaccine in 2010 and the second dose to be introduced this year. Given along with the Oral polio vaccine will provide enhanced protection against transmission of polio virus.
According to the WHO guidelines, tOPVs must be stopped in a phased manner from routine immunisations and campaigns to minimise the risk of new cases. The first phase of tOPV removal is a switch from current tOPV containing antigens for poliovirus types 1, 2, and 3 to bOPV containing only types 1 and 3.
This is because the last case of wild polio type 2 occurred in 1999, and type 2 wild polio virus is responsible for a large number of circulating VDPVs (vaccine derived polio virus) and VAPP (vaccine associated paralytic poliomyelitis).
As transmission of all types of circulating wild polio virus continues to be interrupted, all OPV doses will be withdrawn from the routine immunisation schedules and replaced with IPV.
The switch must also be a globally coordinated process because any further use of tOPV after the national switch date can jeopardise polio eradication by generating new circulating VDVPs, said WHO.
Source: Doha Insight