Afghanistan first to use new polio vaccine

15 Dec 2009

Afghanistan first to use new polio vaccine

KABUL - A new vaccine against polio will be used for the first time, today, in Afghanistan, as a campaign to immunize some 3 million children gets underway. The bivalent oral vaccine, known as bOPV, can protect children against the two remaining types of polio.

Previous vaccines protected children against all three types, or against one type only. This is the first vaccine that has been shown to be effective against types 1 and 3. The Type 2 polio virus has not been seen anywhere in the world since 1999.

Afghanistan is one of 4 countries where polio is still endemic - India, Nigeria and Pakistan are the other countries where transmission of polio still occurs. These three countries will follow Afghanistan's lead in using the new vaccine in the coming months as part of the major international effort to eradicate polio.

The three-day campaign in Afghanistan is being financed by the Government of Canada, which first placed polio on the agenda of the G8 in 2002. The swift production of the vaccine was the result of collaboration between the World Health Organization, UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers and regulatory agencies.