Parents refusing vaccination in Nigeria

In the U.S., the last case of naturally occurring polio happened in 1979. Today, despite a concerted global eradication campaign, poliovirus continues to affect children and adults in Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

According to the Associated Press, hundreds of parents are refusing to vaccinate their children against Polio in Nigeria.

According to the article found online, an independent monitor says the parents are defying threats of jail time by refusing the vaccine for their children in a high-risk northern Nigerian state.

Muhammad Abdu Zango, Kano state coordinator of Journalists Against Polio, said on Tuesday that more than 200 parents refused the vaccine in one district alone.

Vaccinator Amina Ahmed also says that dozens more refused the vaccine in another district.

The four-day drive targeted some 6 million children in a state that has recorded two new polio cases this year.

Authorities last week said noncompliant parents would be prosecuted. Parents have given various reasons to resist the vaccine. Those reasons were not listed in the Associated Press article.

Polio is largely eradicated in most of the world but health officers say even a few vaccine holdouts can compromise an eradication campaign.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Polio is a contagious viral illness that in its most severe form causes paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises taking precautions to protect against polio if you’re traveling anywhere there is a risk of polio. If you’re a previously vaccinated adult who plans to travel to an area where polio is occurring, you should receive a booster dose of inactivated poliovirus (IPV). Immunity following a booster dose lasts a lifetime.

Although polio can cause paralysis and death, the vast majority of people who are infected with the poliovirus don’t become sick and are never aware they’ve been infected with polio.

Currently, most children in the United States receive four doses of inactivated poliovirus (IPV) at the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, between 6 and 18 months, and a booster shot, between ages 4 and 6 when children are just entering school.

IPV is 90 percent effective after two shots and 99 percent effective after three. It can’t cause polio and is safe for people with weakened immune systems, although it’s not certain just how protective the vaccine may be in cases of severe immune deficiency. Common side effects are pain and redness at the injection site.

Just like with every vaccination, there is a potential risk. The Mayo Clinic states that IPV can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Since the vaccine contains trace amounts of the antibiotics streptomycin, polymyxin B and neomycin, it shouldn’t be given to anyone who’s had a reaction to these medications.

Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction usually occur within minutes to a few hours after the shot and may include: high fever, difficulty breathing, weakness, hoarseness or wheezing, rapid heart rate, hives, dizziness, unusual paleness and swelling of the throat.

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