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Israel Launches National Campaign, Vaccinates 30,000 children against Polio

Update Date: Aug 19, 2013 09:43 AM EDT

Polio is one of the many diseases that the global community has worked hard to attempt to eradicate. Even though polio is no longer prevalent in a lot of develop nations, it is still a very destructive disease for poorer countries. Due to the fear of new strains of polio spreading in these nations, vaccination programs must be ready to prevent the spread of these strains. In the country of Israel, the government has launched a nationwide campaign to vaccinate children after discovering a rare new strain of polio circulating within the nation.

The campaign, which started this past Sunday, successfully administered the polio vaccine to 30,000 children born after January 1, 2004. The campaign involved around 1,000 Tipat Halav children's clinics that helped give the vaccine to children. The campaign is expected to last 60 days with around one million dosages available. The vaccines were bought from pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline for around $0.28 per dose.

"[Polio] is spreading. We must stop it," the Health Ministry Director General Roni Gamzo said. "There are no significant side effects [of the vaccine]. The danger is zero. Vaccinate your children so that the child will not carry and spread the disease to your family and friends."

The rare polio virus that is currently circulating in Israel is believed to have come from Egypt. The virus was identified in Rahat's sewage this past May and health officials believe that it entered Israel in February. The officials from the Health Ministry stated that over a thousand of the people believed to be hosts of the virus are children under the age of 10. The Health Ministry explained that even though children are vaccinated when they were infants, that vaccine will not protect them from a contagion due to the fact that the virus used in the vaccine is dead. The ministry now recommends all children to get vaccinated in this program.

"Our findings point to a steady process of contagion and spread. The results of our examinations are clear-cut: Israel is facing a wild polio virus that is passing from person to person, from city to city. It is only a matter of time before it spreads to the entire country," the ministry stated according to the Times of Israel. "The danger from this disease is real and imminent, and is not expected to disappear if the children go unvaccinated."

The officials stressed that children who get the new vaccine are not in danger from the live strain. It is very important to get vaccinated to prevent polio from spreading. One in every 200 people who get infected with the virus at its full strength will suffer from damages to the nervous system. This damage could range from multiple levels of paralysis. The last outbreak in Israel occurred in 1988 where 16 people ended up paralyzed from that virus. 

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