Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Antibody state to poliovirus in first year university students, 1984.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 18 July 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:171
  1. C A Joseph,
  2. N T Begg,
  3. R E Stanwell-Smith,
  4. D I Magrath
  1. PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London.


    Circulating antibodies to poliovirus were estimated in a group of 300 British and 84 foreign first year students who registered at the health centre of Nottingham University in 1984. Detectable antibodies to all three poliovirus serotypes were found in 212 (71%) of the British students but in only 47 (56%) of those from abroad. Most of the British students (280; 93%) had been born in 1965 or 1966, when uptake of poliomyelitis vaccine was declining. Immunisation histories showed that 10 British and 29 foreign students (3% and 35%) had no record of any immunisation; only five British and two foreign students, however, were negative for all three poliovirus serotypes. These findings provide evidence that a high proportion of British born people aged 18-29 have adequate circulating poliovirus antibodies despite incomplete immunisation schedules. Though this is reassuring, the absence of antibodies in some students and the lack of previous immunisation against poliomyelitis in 39 suggest that reinforcing doses of vaccine at the time of leaving school or beginning further education are still warranted, particularly for students from other countries. The findings also emphasise the need for accurate immunisation records.