BSPD: Polio Immunisation

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BSPD advises GDP members to discuss polio immunisation with patients

A spokesperson from the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) raises concerns about polio and offers advice to members.

Recent reports of the detection of the polio virus in sewage samples in London have promoted the BSPD to issue a note to members. The Society’s advice is to highlight the evidence-based risk, explain this to families in the context of UKHSA’s (UK Health Security Agency) announcement and to signpost them to their GP or health visitor.

While there are currently no confirmed UK cases of polio, UKHSA has issued a statement recognising the potential severity. BSPD believes that – as part of ‘Making Every Contact Count’ (MECC) and our commitment to provide holistic care for our patients – that this is the ideal opportunity for dentists to play their part.

Dentists will be asking about patients’ vaccination status as part of the routine medical history. BSPD believes that this is the moment to ask specifically about polio immunisation and recommends Dental Check by 1 (DCby1), as an ideal time to remind parents and carers to ensure their children’s immunisation records are up to date (DCby1 is BSPD’s campaign to get children into a dentist’s chair before their first birthday).

The polio virus is a potentially debilitating and, in rare cases, a deadly disease. This detection of polio virus in the UK is the first for nearly four decades. The UKHSA is urging the public to ensure polio vaccines are up-to-date, especially for parents of young children who may have missed an immunisation opportunity. However, UKHSA also reassures the public that “Vaccine-derived poliovirus is rare and the risk to the public overall is extremely low.”

Professor Sondos Albadri, President, BSPD added: “BSPD is keen to support MECC and it makes sense for our members to take this opportunity to spread the message about the importance of vaccination.

“We must not underestimate the danger of infectious diseases and would recommend paediatric dentists and GDPs seeing children – and their parents or carers – to take this moment to discuss the polio virus vaccine, if they have not done so already.

“This is important advice for both child and adult. Good advice for patients includes checking a child’s Red Book or contacting their GP practice or health visitor to arrange an appointment. We know that vaccines are our best defence against potentially life changing or fatal viruses.”