Sheffield lagging behind targets for polio vaccine as concerns, as ‘national incident’ declared over virus

Sheffield is lagging behind international targets for polio vaccinations – and it has fallen further behind in recent years.

Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:58 pm

The analysis comes after the polio virus was identified by the UK Health Security Agency in sewage samples collected from the Beckton Sewage Treatment Works in London. Health officials declared the situation a national incident.

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Experts are now urging parents to get their children vaccinated, with many areas recording figures below the World Health Organisation’s recommended level of vaccination for youngsters, which is 95 per cent.

Sheffield is lagging behind international targets for polio vaccinations. Picture shows a health worker preparing a vaccine

Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal Sheffield has the 64th lowest percentage of children vaccinated by their first birthday, with a figure of 92.5 per cent out of 148 areas in total. The figures are from 2020-21.

It is a fall from a reported 2020 figure, which was recorded as 93.6 per cent.

Barnsley Rotherham and Doncaster polio vaccine rates revealed

Doncaster, also in South Yorkshire, has the same figure of 92.5 in the latest statistics.

Barnsley and Rotherham both perform better, with both meeting the WHO recommended target.

Barnsley recorded a figure of 95.7, and Rotherham’s figure was 95.9 per cent, putting both among the highest in England.

The UK vaccination rate as a whole is at 92.6 per cent.

The UK’s vaccination rate has been below target since 2012-13 when it peaked at 95.1 per cent.

The vaccine comes in a ‘six in one’ dose which offers protection against polio as well as other diseases such as hepatitis B and tetanus.

Although the risk to public health overall is low, health experts are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated.

The UK Health Security Agency said that the most likely scenario for the new polio cases was that a vaccinated person entered the country before February 2022 from a country where an oral polio vaccine has been used for supplementary immunisation campaigns. This is recognised as a ‘vaccine-derived poliovirus’.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “If you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your Red Book. Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination in childhood, but in some communities with low vaccine coverage, individuals may remain at risk.”