The Ministry of Health has announced its decision to start, as of tomorrow, to vaccinate children born after 1.1.2004 with 2 drops of the polio vaccine. The vaccine will protect the children and their families and will prevent the spread of the polio virus. The vaccine will be administered at the Infant Welfare Centers in the south (the list of places appears on the Ministry of Health website, on Facebook and at Kol Habriut call center *5400). The Ministry of Health has begun the operation to complete the vaccine in the purpose of protecting the population against polio. According to the recommendation of the Ministry of Health, children born on 1.1.2004 and onward (who have still not received a live attenuated drops vaccine (OPV), but have received at least one dose of the injectable inactivated vaccine [IPV]). The vaccine is considered to be extremely effective and has a high safety profile. During monitoring inspections run by the Ministry of Health, the polio virus was detected in the sewage systems at several places, but to this point, no case of an infected person was discovered; therefore, it is very important to continue protecting the population and vaccinate the children.
Children who have never received a drops vaccine (OPV) and have received all the injectable vaccine doses might still transmit the virus to unvaccinated family members. The purpose of the vaccine is to prevent this situation. The decision to go on the vaccination campaign was reached after a long thinking process that included consultation with many specialists in the fields of epidemiology, pediatrics and infectious diseases, including a delegation from the World Health Organization, and only after it was proven beyond any doubt that the virus is spreading extensively in the south, and that a paralytic disease might develop in the absence of intervention.
In a stool survey conducted in the south, further evidence was found for the extensive presence of the virus in humans in the southern region. There is no evidence for polio morbidity in Israel.
The findings suggest that the primary group transmitting the virus is of children up to the age of 9 (born in 2004 and onward). These children (born in 2004 and onward), in spite their having received a vaccine against the disease, can extensively transmit the virus to additional children and adults, without developing signs of the disease. The most effective tool for stopping virus transmission is by administering two drops of the live attenuated vaccine (OPV) to those children who have not received this vaccine in the past.
It should be emphasized that the rest of the population in Israel (older than 9) have received the live attenuated vaccine in the past (OPV). Several measures have been taken in order to minimize the risk for side effects as a result of the live attenuated vaccine (OPV) given in the present campaign:
The vaccine will be given only to those who have received an IPV vaccine in the past. The OPV vaccine will not be given to a patient with an immune system deficiency or to someone who has a relative with such a deficiency. The vaccine that is being used is an improved version of the vaccine used in the past, and it includes a vaccine against strains 1 and 3 of polio, meaning it includes only 2/3 of the ingredients, which reduces the risk even further.
It should be noted that over 98% of Israel’s residents are vaccinated. After the vaccine, please maintain personal hygiene by washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after visiting the toilet, before and after coming to contact with food, and also before and after changing diapers. In light of the above, it was decided to go on a vaccination campaign ("2 Drops") for the administration of the live attenuated vaccine to children up to the age of 9 (born in 2004 onward) in the south within the predefined borders (based on the findings in the sewage facilities and the stool survey). The Ministry of Health regularly reviews the data, and will decide whether it is necessary to expand the vaccination campaign to other areas of Israel. The campaign’s objective – prevention of polio morbidity (paralysis) in Israel by reducing virus transmission and the extermination of the virus in Israel.
The Ministry of Health operates under complete transparency and will keep the public informed regarding any finding, development or decision. The World Health Organization supports and backs the decision made by the Ministry of Health and has confidence in the proper decision making process, based on the unique course of the data in Israel.