In a World Polio Day message on Saturday, PAHO said that while America was the first region to be declared polio-free more than 25 years ago, only continued vaccination and strict surveillance can protect its needs for benefits.
“Although we as a region have beaten polio before, we are again at risk of polio circulation in our communities if we allow vaccination rates to drop and get too low,” said PAHO Director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne.
“That’s why it’s more important than ever to do our part to protect and sustain polio eradication in our region while we wait for countries in other parts of the world to achieve this goal,” said the Dominican Republic-born official .
Regional polio vaccination rates for America have been below the recommended 95 percent in recent years. Reported coverage for the third dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV3) for America between 2016 and 2019 was between 85 and 87 percent. Coverage in 2020 could be lower in many countries due to primary health care disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now during the pandemic, we have to work extra hard not to lose what we have gained,” said PAHO immunization program director Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus.
He noted that important factors in the success of the region’s fight against polio were strong political engagement by governments; engaged, engaged communities; strategic partnerships and support between international agencies, Rotary International and governments; and tireless health care workers dedicated to reaching and protecting every child with polio vaccinations.
“Without all of these things, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said Ruiz.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted essential health services, including vaccination services and epidemiological surveillance systems, which aim to quickly identify vaccine-preventable diseases and provide a quick response before outbreaks increase as health workers in the area focus on the Have focused response to pandemics.
PAHO said the Region of Americas reported its last case of poliomyelitis from wild poliovirus in 1991 and was the first region to be certified in 1994 to have cleared the virus.
From America, lessons have been drawn from epidemiological surveillance and sustainability initiatives in vaccination programs by PAHO’s Revolving Fund for Vaccine Procurement, shared with vaccination programs worldwide, and now five of the six regions of the World Health Organization (WHO) have been certified as polio-free .
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