Iran Set to Become Polio-Free

Iran Set to Become Polio-FreeIran Set to Become Polio-Free

Fatemeh Razi Abadi, contagious diseases specialist at Tehran University of Medical Sciences announced that polio vaccination coverage is higher than 97 percent in the country and since 2001, no new incidence of fresh polio infections have been observed in the country. 

Razi Abadi explaining about the polio supplementary immunization plans said, under the program oral polio vaccine (OPV) is given to all refugee and migrant children below 5 years twice a year in April and late May by referring public health officials to them. OPV allowed large populations to be immunized because it was easy to administer, she added.

Surveillance is important to polio eradication as it indicates where the virus is circulating and who is being affected. Any sudden flaccid paralysis is reported immediately and within 14 days sampling is obtained.

Although polio has been contained in Iran, however the virus can be transmitted from across borders where not enough people may have been immunized. It can spread from person to person, as has happened in some countries. So until it has been eliminated worldwide, it's important to continue vaccinating against the deadly virus.

The OPV is given in several doses to ensure that polio is controlled and eventually eradicated. Such repeated immunizations have made several countries around the world polio-free. 

The recommended number of doses is four: at 2 months, 4 months and between 6 and 18 months and 4-6 years of age, ISNA reports. 

Vaccine Production 

Iran was at one time one of the main manufacturers of oral polio vaccine and vaccine imports were low, noted Mostafa Ghanei, deputy minister of health for research and technology.

"But due to Western sanctions on the country's civilian nuclear program, the production of polio vaccine was not sufficient to meet the entire needs and that is why it is imported," he said. 

However this year, Razi Institute would cover the country's needs through increased production. 

"Next year injectable forms of vaccine will be imported. We will continue vaccine imports for 1 or 2 years. Meanwhile, we will also make efforts to become self-sufficient in its production," said Mahdi Pirsalehi, director general of Food and Drugs Administration. 

Some pharmaceutical companies announced they have started research to produce injectable vaccine in the country soon, he added.