Identification of genetically-related vaccine-like poliovirus type 2 (PV2) in NE London sewage samples and actions to increase childhood vaccination coverage

We have been informed by UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA)  since February 2022, there have been three samples taken from the sewage treatment facility which covers North East London which have shown the presence of a vaccine-like type 2 poliovirus. The viruses in these three samples were genetically related. The likely cause is that these viruses are from a person who entered the UK in February having been recently vaccinated in a country that uses the monovalent type 2 Oral Polio Vaccine. UKSHA is carrying out further investigations. UKSHA is advising health professionals to be alert to Acute Flaccid Paralysis/Acute Flaccid Myelitis and ensure it is fully investigated and reported to the UKSHA. 

The key mitigation for any risk from this is high uptake of the polio vaccine, with an aim of 95% uptake for the schedule of routine childhood vaccines. This reduces the risk of imported viruses (including those related to vaccination) spreading through the community. The Dtap/IPV/Hib uptake for 2 year olds in Redbridge was 89.1% in the most recent data from 20202/21, therefore we need to take further  action  to ensure our residents are  protected. 

We are taking the following action to support GP Practices  to increase  childhood vaccination coverage: 

  • The preschool questionnaire includes a prompt for parents to ensure children are fully vaccinated before they start school. The school nurses  follow up with a telephone call  and send a reminder when a child is due for primary immunisation. 
  • We are working with RCVS colleagues  to raise awareness of the importance of childhood vaccinations. This is a targeted programme of work with different communities.  

We have provided Making Every Contact Count (MECC)  training for over 2000 community champions to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated.