The Ministry of Health is set to launch the inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (IPV) in Malubalube, Mokhotlong this month to complement oral polio vaccine drops (OPV) that are currently being given to infants.
The National Extended Programme on Immunization (EPI) Surveillance Officer in the Ministry of Health, Ms Malekhetho Motenalapi on Wednesday said the vaccine would be launched on 18 April.
“After the launch, the vaccine is expected to be made available in clinics and hospitals around the country,” Ms Motenalapi said.
“The OPV is going to strengthen the OPV drops in preventing polio in children. I must note that the IPV is going to be a onetime vaccine where children will be vaccinated on one thigh at 14 weeks after birth while on the other hand they will still be given their OPV drops.”
Ms Motenalapi said the OPV drops were being phased out and would not be used after 2020 hence the introduction of IPV.
“Giving both the vaccine and drops to children is to see whether the vaccine will be OK for them. That’s why we can’t just abandon the drops before making sure the vaccine is alright for the children,” Ms Motenalapi said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on IPV introduction, OPV withdrawal and the routine immunization strengthening states that the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 seeks to hasten the interruption of all poliovirus transmission and, where possible, contribute to strengthening immunisation services for the delivery of other lifesaving vaccines.
The Endgame Plan was developed in response to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2012, which declared the completion of poliovirus eradication to be a “programmatic emergency for global public health”.