Dr. Payal Patel, assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School and infectious diseases physician, breaks down the concerning spread of a rare strain of ‘vaccine-derived’ polio.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain related to the weakened live poliovirus contained in oral polio vaccine (OPV). If allowed to circulate in under- or unimmunized populations for long enough, or replicate in an immunodeficient individual, the weakened virus can revert to a form that causes illness and paralysis.
OPV is a safe and effective vaccine that contains a combination of one, two, or three strains of live, weakened poliovirus, and is given in the form of oral drops. OPV has been instrumental in eradicating wild polioviruses around the world, including in the United States, because it stops the spread of the virus by inducing immunity in the gut. VDPVs emerge when not enough people are vaccinated against polio, and the weakened strain of the poliovirus from OPV spreads among under-immunized populations.
The United States has used inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) exclusively since 2000. IPV is given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on the person’s age and protects against paralytic disease caused by any type of poliovirus, including VDPV.”
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