Polio is an ancient viral disease spread through contaminated water and close contact. It affects the neurological system, causing paralysis.
Since the introduction of vaccination in the 1950’s worldwide rates have fallen dramatically and eradication is tantalisingly close, with 2016 having recorded the lowest number of cases on record. However, efforts to finally achieve eradication through vaccination have been hampered by political instability, war and misinformation about the vaccine.
Some countries require evidence of recent vaccination for entry and exit.
Usually mild symptoms which usually settles, however a proportion of patients develop muscle paralysis. This can affect any muscle group but most severe when affecting respiratory muscles. In the past the 'Iron lung' was designed to artificially hep patients breathe. There is no cure.
Vaccination as well as hygiene measures are the only ways to prevent Polio.
Polio is included in the childhood immunisation schedule. Adult doses are thought to last for at least 10 years.
The vaccine currently in use in Australia is an inactivated injected vaccine. It has a very good safety profile.
The vaccine can be given on its own or in combination with Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis.
Yes, but only if visiting the countries mentioned below or listed on WHO.org. If polio vaccination is required, we record it on an official certificate of international vaccination which should be carried at all times with your passport.
These recommendations are in addition to the recommendations that all individuals should have received 4 doses in early childhood as part of the standard childhood vaccination schedule.
In general one adult booster is usually sufficient for long term protection, however in February 2017, World Health Organisation (WHO) released updated polio vaccine recommendations.
Temporary polio vaccine requirements affect the following countries: Afghanistan, Laos, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Long-term travellers to these polio-infected countries (staying >4 weeks) may be required to show proof of polio vaccination when leaving them. Some other countries also request proof of vaccination when arriving from the above countries.
To meet WHO requirements, long-term travellers should receive the polio vaccine between 4 weeks and 12 months before the date of departure from these polio-infected countries. WHO regularly updates these recommendations based on changing information about incidence of polio in various countries.
This is a dynamic situation. Papua New Guinea was the most recent country to request proof of vaccination certificates.