Vaccine switched in push to end polio

A child is given vaccine in an Afghanistan hospitalImage copyright

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A child is given vaccine in an Afghanistan hospital

More than 150 countries have begun switching to a different polio vaccine – an important milestone towards polio eradication, health campaigners say.

The new vaccine will target the two remaining strains of the virus under a switchover 18 months in the planning.

There were just 74 cases of the paralysing disease in 2015 and there have been 10 so far this year.

All of the cases were in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Africa has been free of polio for more than a year.

Switching the vaccine from one successfully used to fight polio for more than 30 years is a huge logistical exercise.

Thousands of monitors

Thousands of people will monitor the changeover in 155 countries during the next fortnight.

It is taking effect mainly in developing countries, but also in richer ones such as Russia and Mexico.

The new vaccine will still be given as drops in the mouth, so healthcare workers will not need fresh training.

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