100,000 Five-Year-Olds Have No Protection from Deadly Polio, Figures Reveal

Recent data reveals that tens of thousands of children in England are not immunised against polio. Only 85.3% of British children aged five had received their polio booster in 2020/21, putting more than 100,000 at risk of paralysis or death.

The rate of adoption ranged from 55.8 percent in the London borough of Camden to 96% in County Durham.

The British Polio Fellowship urged parents last night to protect their children, blaming misinformation on social media sites for fueling mistrust in vaccines. It comes after the UK Health Security Agency declared a national incident in February after detecting poliovirus samples at a London waste water site.

It warned that the deadly virus was likely to be circulating in England for the first time in nearly 40 years, despite the fact that the last confirmed case was in 1984 and the UK was declared polio-free in 2003.

A health minister said yesterday that the samples could be traced back to a specific household or street. This would allow infected people to be isolated and residents in the area to be targeted for vaccinations.

Polio primarily affects children under the age of five, attacking the nervous system and causing paralysis in up to one in every 100 cases. It can be fatal if it affects the muscles that control breathing, and has no treatment at the moment. 

‘The discovery of the poliovirus in wastewater is concerning,’ said Kripen Dhrona, chief executive of the British Polio Fellowship. To limit the spread of the virus and protect people from its devastating effects, we must increase vaccination rates.

‘I would urge parents to vaccinate their children as I would not want them to see their child go through the ordeal of catching polio.’

According to NHS Digital data, more than a third of all unprotected five-year-olds (34,105) live in London. Out of 148 councils, London has the worst 21 councils, Birmingham has the 22nd worst, and Liverpool has the 26th worst.

English Health Centre asks new parents if their babies are transgender or non-binary