British Paralympian, Ade Adepitan is throwing his support behind the NHS polio booster vaccination drive in London, having suffered from the disease when he was 15 months, resulting in him permanently losing the use of his legs.
The basketball player and TV presenter is urging parents in London to ensure their children are fully vaccinated against the virus, with nearly three in four children in the capital yet to receive a polio booster.
The NHS in London is offering all children aged 1 – 9 years a polio booster vaccination to protect them against the virus, after vaccine-derived polio virus was detected in sewage water.
All children eligible for a polio booster have been contacted by the NHS in London, and there are more than 40 vaccination sites across the capital to make it even easier to get vaccinated.
Today, Ade Adepitan shares an urgent plea for those yet come forward for their booster to contact their GP Practice or visit a vaccination centre.
Speaking about his personal experience Ade said:
“Polio can have devastating consequences, which I know all too well. As a small child I contracted polio, I quickly became very unwell, and as a result of the disease taking over my nervous system, I permanently lost the use of my legs. It was lifechanging.
“But polio can be completely prevented through vaccination, which is why it is so important that parents book in to get their children a booster jab at their GP or nearest vaccination site as soon as possible.
“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your children against the disease. To put it simply, if I had been vaccinated when I was exposed to polio, I would not be in a wheelchair now.”
Polio is a disease that can cause life limiting and life changing consequences, including paralysis, and there is no cure. It is highly contagious and easily transmittable from person to person, particularly with children under the age of five.
The only protection against a child getting seriously unwell with polio is for them to be fully vaccinated against the virus.
Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London, said:
“While it’s encouraging approximately 300,000 eligible children in London have received a booster or catch-up dose of the polio vaccine ensuring they have vital protection against this rare but potentially devastating disease, we’re continuing to invite and encourage more parents to come forward with their children as soon as possible, and we’ve expanded the range of convenient options available for children to get vaccinated.
“We’re thankful to everyone who continues to support this important vaccination effort including Ade who has partnered with us, sharing his own, heartfelt experience of how being infected by the poliovirus has significantly impacted his life after causing him to permanently lose the use of his legs.
“Although the majority of Londoners are protected against polio due to success of our vaccination programme, the discovery of traces of the virus in sewage samples in parts of the capital means we must all redouble our effort to keep it at bay and do what we can to keep children safe and protected – we mustn’t be complacent.”
In London, parents of children aged 5 to 9 years old can choose to book appointments in advance at some sites or simply walk into others without an appointment.
Parents of eligible children aged 1 to 4 should continue to get their booster or catch-up dose via their GP practice.
To book a polio booster vaccination in London contact your child’s GP practice or one of over 40 vaccination centres across the city. Walk-in appointments are also available at vaccination centres. To find a vaccination centre take a look at www.nhs.uk/polio-sites for more information.
The NHS routinely offers the polio vaccine as part of a child’s vaccinations from eight weeks old. The NHS website shows which vaccinations are due when NHS vaccinations and when to have them – NHS (www.nhs.uk)