Polio worry: This is what Lancashire's Public Health boss is urging you to do

Lancashire’s public health boss has issued a plea to parents in the county after strains of the polio virus were found in the UK for the first time in decades.

>>>Click here for why a 'national incident' has been declared over polio

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, who has previously led polio eradication and surveillance programmes in India said: "Whilst most children are up to date with their vaccines, we are seeing lower uptake of early childhood vaccines in Lancashire compared to the England average.

"Vaccines save lives and I urge all parents to ensure their children are fully immunised against vaccine-preventable diseases."

Poliomyelitis virus vaccine with stethoscope and syringe at the background

The figures

According to the latest Public Health England statistics for 2020/21, in Lancashire, 88.1 per cent of children reaching their first birthday were reported to have completed their primary DTaP/IPV/Hib course. This is below the target of 90 per cent coverage, and also significantly lower than England (92 per cent).

In Blackburn with Darwen, the figure was 86.2 per cent of eligible children but in Blackpool, it was above the local target and statistically similar to England at 93.4 per cent.

In Lancashire overall, 92.4 per cent of children were reaching their second birthday with completed courses of DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, which was above the local target of 90 per cent but below England (93.8 per cent).

Photo Neil Cross; Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi

Again in Blackburn with Darwen, the figure was lower at 88.3 per cent and in Blackpool it was 94.3 per cent.

The UK is considered by the World Health Organization to be polio-free, with low-risk for polio transmission due to the high level of vaccine coverage across the population. However, vaccine coverage for childhood vaccines has decreased nationally over the past few years.