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Polio Highlight

FAQ #1 Why should countries introduce IPV?

Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) Introduction

In May 2012 the World Health Assembly declared the completion of poliovirus eradication to be a programmatic emergency for global public health and called for a comprehensive polio endgame strategy.  In response, the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 was developed.

The planoutlines a comprehensive approach for completing eradication including the elimination of all polio disease (both wild and vaccine-related).

As one of its four major objectives, the plan calls on countries to introduce at least 1 dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into routine immunization schedules, strengthen routine immunization and withdraw Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in a phased manner, starting with type 2-containing OPV. This sheet provides information on the rationale behind this objective.

Why should countries introduce IPV?

Introducing IPV is a key element of the endgame plan and global readiness to manage risks associated with OPV type 2 withdrawal. The endgame plan calls for the introduction of IPV in all OPV-only using countries by the end of 2015. The primary role of IPV will be to maintain immunity against type 2 poliovirus while removing OPV type 2 globally.  More specifically, IPV needs to be introduced for the following reasons:

  • To reduce risks. Once OPV type 2 is withdrawn globally, if no IPV is used, there will be an unprecedented accumulation of children susceptible to type 2 poliovirus.  IPV use will help maintain immunity to type 2.  This will help prevent emergence of type 2 viruses should they be introduced after the type 2 component is removed from OPV.  Thus, a region immunized with IPV would have a lower risk of re-emergence or reintroduction of wild or vaccine-derived type 2 poliovirus.
  • To interrupt transmission in the case of outbreaks. Should monovalent OPV type 2 (mOPV type 2) be needed to control an outbreak, the immunity levels needed to stop transmission will be easier to reach with use of mOPV type 2 in an IPV-vaccinated population compared to use of mOPV type 2 in a completely unvaccinated population.  Thus, introducing IPV now could facilitate future outbreak control.

A WHO Position Paper on polio vaccines published in February 2014 is available online at:


TAG Recommendations on the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018


  • TAG expresses concern regarding the reported decline in Polio3 coverage at the national and sub-national levels in the Americas. As such, TAG strongly urges countries to ensure high, homogenous polio coverage to maintain the achievement of polio elimination in the Region.
  • TAG notes the confirmed isolation of WPV1 in Brazil from environmental sampling in the state of Sao Paulo in March 2014 and commends Brazil for its response to this isolation. This finding confirms that the risk of WPV is real for the Region.
  • In light of the newly confirmed risk of WPV importation in the Americas, TAG calls upon PAHO Member States to urgently take action to strengthen AFP active surveillance. The reported decline in the proportion of laboratory specimens of quality collected and timeliness of case investigations jeopardizes the opportune detection of imported WPV (or VDPVs) and rapid deployment of response activities.
  • Due to its high cost and involved methods, expansion of environmental surveillance networks in the Region needs further assessment. TAG recommends that PAHO assess the strengths and weaknesses of existing environmental sampling methods and based on this risk assessment and evaluation of existing methods, PAHO should propose potential options for environmental sampling in selected settings in the Region.
  • PAHO should conduct a risk analysis to identify areas in the Region with a high concentration of WPV importation (and VDPV) risk (i.e. geographic areas with suboptimal polio3 coverage and a large number of international visitors from polio endemic or at risk areas).
  • TAG reiterates the recommendations issued during the extraordinary TAG Meeting on Polio conducted in April 2014:
  • TAG agrees with the renewed efforts towards eradicating polio and the objectives of the polio endgame. These efforts include the ongoing removal of Sabin oral polio vaccine from the routine immunization schedule.
  •  TAG reiterates its previous recommendations, emphasizing:
  • § The importance of achieving and maintaining high and homogenous vaccination coverage rates to reduce risk of importations of WPV and cVDPV, and
  • § The need for continued strengthening of epidemiological AFP surveillance.
  • TAG urges implementation of environmental surveillance towards validating the elimination of cVDPVs and WPV.
  • TAG agrees with the six prerequisites stated by SAGE to switch from tOPV to bOPV.*
  • The countries of the Americas are already in the process of introducing IPV. At the end of 2015, approximately 80% of the birth cohort in the Americas will be covered with IPV. PAHO is providing technical cooperation to the countries on this process.
  • The remaining countries must decide when they will be able to introduce IPV, taking into consideration affordability (price for vaccines and operational costs), current opportunity costs, and sustainability. PAHO should continue working with the countries to help remove barriers for such introduction.
  • When introducing IPV, countries should consider sequential schedules. Ideally, countries should consider two IPV doses followed by two OPV doses. However, if a country is considering only one IPV dose, this should be with the first DTP dose and followed by three OPV doses.
  • Countries should not consider moving directly to an IPV only schedule at this time, unless they meet the criteria previously recommended by TAG and WHO (low risk of transmission and importation, high homogeneous coverage, and good sanitation).

*According to the SAGE’s recommendations, prior to the withdrawal of OPV2 – by replacing tOPV with bOPV in all OPV-using countries, six prerequisites must be in place:

1. Validation of the elimination of persistent cVDPV type 2 and confirmation of WPV2 eradication;
2. A mOPV type 2 stockpile and response capacity;
3. Surveillance capacity and an international notification requirement for all Sabin, Sabin-like, and cVDPV type 2 viruses;
4. Sufficient bOPV products for all OPV-using countries;
5. Affordable IPV option(s) for all OPV-using countries;
6. Phase II bio-containment of all cVDPVs type 2 and WPV.

Source: XXII TAG Meeting Washington DC, 2014 - Final Report, pp.13


Detection of imported wild poliovirus in environmental samples

Epidemiological Alert, 21 June 2014 - Upon detection of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in environmental samples from Brazil, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that Member States of the Region of the Americas continue to strengthen surveillance for cases of acute flaccid paralysis in order to rapidly detect any new instances of imported poliovirus and maintain high immunization coverage against polio.

Read more here:

Progress towards polio eradication worldwide, 2013–2014

Progress towards polio eradication worldwide, 2013–2014

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 09:47

Remembering a Hero


Dr. Ciro de Quadros, a Brazilian epidemiologist who was a central figure in the eradication of polio from Latin America and the Caribbean, and a Public Health Hero of the Americas, passed away on May 28, 2014. His contributions and the impact he made on the world will live on forever.

In 1974 de Quadros founded the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) at PAHO, which encouraged and supported the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in making vaccines available for their populations that had previously been available only in wealthier countries. He was also the key figure behind the creation of the PAHO Revolving Fund for Vaccine Procurement, established in 1979, which pools demand for vaccines and other supplies, achieving economies of scale that allow participating PAHO member countries to purchase vaccines at low prices.

In addition to founding the EPI program at PAHO, de Quadros was influential in the development of the national immunization programs across the Americas, the training and development of human resources, the overall strategy of the regular program, and the planning and execution of vaccination campaigns. Under his leadership, the Americas became the first Region of the world to eradicate polio and to eliminate measles and rubella. His influence expanded to other Regions of the world as well. He was a visionary and a dreamer and has provided the Americas and the rest of the world with a strong example of public health excellence. 

In honoring de Quadros with this Public Health Hero award in April 2014, Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO, stated “We at PAHO believe that no single person has done more to extend the benefits of immunization to people throughout the Americas.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 17:16
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