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Pediatr Clin North Am. 2000 Apr;47(2):287-308.

Poliovirus vaccines. Progress toward global poliomyelitis eradication and changing routine immunization recommendations in the United States.

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Vaccine Preventable Disease Eradication Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Poliomyelitis prevention in the United States has relied virtually exclusively on OPV during the past 30 years. Starting in 1997, a major change in the poliomyelitis vaccination policy occurred, facilitated by substantial progress toward worldwide poliomyelitis eradication. A sequential schedule of IPV followed by OPV became the preferred means to prevent poliomyelitis, although an all-OPV and an all-IPV schedule were considered acceptable alternatives. In 1999, two doses of IPV were recommended to start the primary series, followed by two doses of either poliovirus vaccine. As of January 2000, an all-IPV schedule is currently being implemented in the United States for routine childhood vaccination. Several unusual features are associated with the major public health policy change from an all-OPV to a sequential schedule, including (1) the process of involving a neutral party (i.e., the IOM); (2) the perceived concerns expressed before the change in policy with regard to provider and parent compliance, which could affect the hard-earned gains in raising immunization coverage rates; (3) the ethical issues surrounding the change (e.g., societal versus individual protection) and the influence that a single case of VAPP may have on national policy; (4) the relative lack of importance of cost-effectiveness data; and (5) the weight of progress in the global polio eradication initiative spurring the change in the United States and, increasingly, in other industrialized countries. The IOM assisted in the evaluation of the national poliomyelitis vaccination policy in 1977 and again in 1988. The 1988 review recommended that a sequential IPV-OPV schedule be considered at such time that a combination vaccine becomes available. Also, the IOM raised several important questions. Extensive research to address the questions raised by the IOM had been conducted so that, in 1996, more data were available for the decision-making process. The primary reasons for the change in vaccination policy were (1) the continued occurrence of VAPP in the absence of indigenously acquired wildtype poliovirus-associated paralytic disease, (2) the reduced risk for importation and spread of wild-type poliovirus caused by the progress of the global polio eradication initiative, (3) evidence from vaccine trials that combined IPV-OPV schedules are safe and immunogenic, and (4) maintenance of high levels of population immunity to poliovirus. The global effect of a national change in poliomyelitis vaccination policy was also considered in this policy-making process. Some members of the public health and medical communities raised objections that an increased reliance on IPV in the United States could lead other countries, especially developing countries, to inappropriately abandon OPV and increase reliance on IPV for routine vaccination. Experience from the global smallpox eradication campaign indicated that this scenario was unlikely. The United States ceased vaccinating against smallpox in 1971, 6 years before smallpox was eliminated from the world, without jeopardizing the global smallpox campaign. Subsequently, the effect on the global eradication initiative has been negligible. This article illustrates the potential discrepancy between expressed theoretic concerns about the number of injections and the actual practice once vaccination policy recommendations become the standard of care and that appropriate training and education can overcome these initial concerns. The authors found that compliance with the recommended use of IPV for the first and second doses as part of the sequential schedule was high, independent of socioeconomic status and ethnicity. The need for additional injections did not present a barrier to completion of the recommended childhood immunization schedule. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED).

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