Not since 1984 has there been a case of polio in the United Kingdom, which was declared polio-free in 2003. Polio is considered eliminated in most first world countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where the infection is still classified as endemic.
So, the emergence of polio-virus in the east London sewage reminded us whilst the virus continues to exist anywhere it is only a plane-trip away and no country is safe until we achieve global eradication.
Rotary International and Rotarians around the world are, of course, leading the way; raising funds, engaging with leadership in polio-affected and donor countries.
In particular political, community and medical leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last two countries which remain endemic to wild poliovirus, are now in overdrive to find the remaining ‘zero-dose’ children who have never been reached and immunised.
Vaccination is a normal part of childhood health in the UK. There are also booster jabs at age 14 although covid school closures has adversely affected the administration of these.
All parents are encouraged to protect their children and the whole community by engaging any UK vaccination programmes.