The United States has generated a level 2 travel alert for Pakistan and other polio-endemic Asian countries following the outbreak of the crippling disease, declaring the life-time booster dose for adults mandatory during the period of restrictions imposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The US issued new guidelines for travelers bound for polio-endemic countries on the recommendations of its federal agency — Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — to stop the spread of the virus to other states. “The WHO recommends that these countries require residents and long-term (four weeks or more) visitors show proof of polio vaccination before leaving the country,” reads the level 2 travel alert by the US.
It says before traveling to these countries, adults who have completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single, lifetime adult booster dose of polio vaccine.
According to the CDC, polio outbreaks have been reported in eight Asian countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.
Particularly, the WHO had extended travel restrictions on Pakistan following frequent outbreaks of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) and wild poliovirus type 1 (WP1) cases.
According to the US travel alert 2, the CDC recommends that all travelers to the countries in-question be vaccinated fully against polio.
The adults who were fully vaccinated during childhood should receive an additional (single) lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.
“Even if you were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, you may need a booster dose to make sure you are protected”, reads the alert. The WHO recommends that these countries require residents and long-term (4 weeks or more) visitors show proof of polio vaccination before leaving the country, according to the CDC.
For travelers going to countries with circulating polio-virus who have completed their routine polio vaccine series but who have not already received an adult booster dose, the CDC recommends administering an inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) booster dose.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (MoNHSRC) said that Pakistan faced a challenging year for polio eradication in 2019.
“As of today, 134 of our children have been paralysed by this debilitating disease,” he said adding that the government had put in place a comprehensive plan to reverse the situation in 2020, starting with a successful nationwide polio vaccination campaign last month.