Polio virus UK: How do I find out if I have had the polio vaccine? How can parents find out their child’s polio vaccination status?

An investigation is ongoing to safeguard the public from a recent polio detection in sewage samples in the UK – here is how you can find out if you have had the polio vaccine.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and has found the polio virus in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works.

According to the UKHSA, it is normal for one to three ‘vaccine-like’ polioviruses to be detected each year in the UK as part of routine observation, however, these were always one-off findings that were not detected again.

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Investigations have begun following the discovery of several closely-related viruses in sewage samples which were taken between February and May. The virus has gradually developed and is now classified as a ‘vaccine-derived’ poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2), which on rare occasions can cause serious illness, such as paralysis, in people who have not been fully vaccinated.

A vaccine is prepared. (Pic credit: Finnbarr Webster / Getty Images)

The virus has only been found in sewage samples and no linked cases of paralysis have been reported, but investigations will reveal if any community transmission is taking place.

According to UKHSA, the last case of wild polio contracted in the UK was confirmed in 1984 and the country was declared polio-free in 2003.

Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, Dr Vanessa Saliba, said: “Vaccine-derived poliovirus is rare and the risk to the public overall is extremely low. Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower.

“On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your Red Book.

“Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination in childhood, but in some communities with low vaccine coverage, individuals may remain at risk.

“We are urgently investigating to better understand the extent of this transmission and the NHS has been asked to swiftly report any suspected cases to the UKHSA, though no cases have been reported or confirmed so far.”

How do I find out if I have had the polio vaccine?

If you have been administered a vaccine from a GP, an HSE doctor or nurse, your records are kept in local health offices, which you can contact by finding your local health office on the National Immunisation Office website.

Contact your local health office if you need to request your routine vaccination records or ask a question you feel is not covered on the National Immunisation Office website.

If you have received a vaccine that was not part of the HSE National Immunisation Programme in a GP practice, pharmacy, travel health clinic or occupational clinic, contact them for your record.