One of my educational roles is update staff in my medical practice about topical public health issues in our weekly clinical meeting. In the most recent meeting, I gave an update on polio in London, including some key facts that health professionals need to understand.
1. Understand the difference between the two types of polio vaccines: inactivated and live. The inactivated polio vaccine has been used in the UK since 2004. Once polio has been eradicated from a country, it is safer to use the inactivated vaccine.
2. Check each patient’s polio vaccination status and encourage those patients who are not vaccinated or only partly vaccinated to receive a full course of vaccinations. Ensure that vaccine status is recorded on the patient’s electronic medical record.
3. Support the booster programme for children aged 1-9 years old that is currently being rolled out across London. Address vaccine hesitancy and any concerns about vaccination in parents sympathetically and aim to understand why people may have concerns about polio vaccines.
4. Direct parents to evidence-based resources that provide further information about both polio vaccination and childhood vaccination more generally. There are many excellent online resources published in different languages by the NHS and other government organisations.