NEW DELHI: Days ahead of the next round of pulse polio drive on May 29, the Delhi Medical Council (DMC) issued a notice asking medical practitioners to dispose of any vials of the trivalent polio vaccine that has been discontinued by the government.
The trivalent vaccine (tOPV), which contains all three strains of the poliovirus, was globally replaced by a more effective bivalent vaccine in April. As per the guidelines, medical practitioners need to dispose of the old stock.
“It has come to our notice that some medical practitioners have been storing tOPV vials. These need to be disposed of as per the guidelines and no tOPV should have been available with them from April 24th onwards,” the notice read.
As part of the global switch, between April 21 and 24, eleven teams across Delhi ensured that all centres providing the polio drops dispose of tOPV vials.
“After the switch, when the DMC NOTICE Delhi teams conducted checks, they found vials of the old vaccine with private practitioners. The trivalent drops must not be given to children at any cost; these can be harmful. So we issued the notice,” said Dr Girish Tyagi, secretary, Delhi Medical Council.
“It was easy for government centres as we replaced the old drops with the new ones. However, some private practitioners may store the leftover tOPV vaccines because of monetary reasons. The government is not responsible for replacing the vaccines,” said an official from the health department.
Before the switch to the new drops, the department had even undertaken drives to inform private practitioners not to purchase and store the trivalent vaccines.
It is important to ensure that no child receives the tOPV in the next round of vaccination. “The bivalent vaccine does not contain the P2 strain of poliovirus because it has been eliminated from the world and it only results in vaccine-derived cases. Now, since the children will not have immunity to P2 strain, any child who receives tOPV would be at a risk of paralysis if the virus starts circulating in their body,” the official said.
Hence, an independent team would randomly check various facilities in the city to verify if the vaccines have been thrown away. “Teams from the National Certification Commission of Polio might visit a few of these clinics to find out if the tOPV has been disposed of,” the DMC notice read.