Children under 10 will get polio boosters as virus returns to UK after 40 years

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Children under 10 are set to be offered polio vaccine boosters amid a rise in the amount of the virus detected in London's sewage works.

Health authorities plan to give children the shots regardless of where they are on their polio vaccine schedule, in a bid to prevent what would be the first community outbreak of the disease in the UK since the 1970s.

Polio can cause symptoms including a high temperature, tiredness, headaches, vomiting and muscle pain. In rare and extreme cases it can lead to more serious symptoms that affect the brain and nerves.

Earlier this year officials found traces of the poliovirus in sewage samples collected from north and east London.

Officials stressed that the risk to the public from this was "very low" but that it was important to keep vaccines up to date.

Children across Greater London will be offered the shots from Wednesday, the Daily Mirror reported.

“Most of the UK population will be protected by vaccination in childhood but it’s clear that Vaccine Derived Poliovirus (VDPV) could potentially spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower," Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said.

She added: "Sadly on rare occasions the virus can cause paralysis in people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

“As with all vaccination programmes, the JCVI keeps the polio vaccination programme under regular review and any changes to their advice or vaccination policy will be communicated as necessary.”