07 Jul 2020

Polio: Public Health Emergency of International Concern

An update on the polio Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) Polio: Public Health Emergency of International Concern

The twenty-fifth meeting of the Emergency Committee (EC) under International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 was convened on 23 June 2020 to review the data on wild polio virus (WPV) and circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV) and progress made towards stopping transmission since the last report (26 March 2020) [1].

The statement from the EC, which provides the background to the emergency and detail on the current situation, is available: Statement of the Twenty-Fifth IHR Emergency Committee Regarding the International Spread of Poliovirus.

Countries with a change in status since the last EC meeting are China, Kenya and Nigeria (which has now achieved WPV1 free status) [1].

One new country has reported an outbreak since the last meeting; Mali reported one case of cVDPV2 imported from Nigeria, which occurred in February 2020 [1].

See vaccination recommendations and certificate information on the individual Country Information pages for those who plan to travel to these countries.

Advice for travellers

You can become infected with the polio virus through contact with the infected human faeces and/or respiratory secretions of an infected person. The virus can also be found in food or water contaminated with infected faeces. You should practise strict food, water and personal hygiene.

Wherever you are travelling to, you should make sure you have completed a primary vaccination course for polio according to the UK schedule. Vaccines used in the UK schedule contain inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and provide protection against types 1, 2 and 3 polioviruses. The bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) used in some other countries, does not protect against type 2 poliovirus. You should check with your doctor or nurse that you are protected against all types of poliovirus.

You are encouraged to carry documentary evidence of your polio vaccinations. An International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis is required by some countries. See our Country Information pages for country specific information.

Advice for health professionals

All travellers regardless of destination should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. See our Country Information pages for country specific recommendations and certificate requirements.

For specific outbreak information, check our Outbreak Surveillance. The polio status of countries is reviewed by WHO on a regular basis and polio vaccination recommendations are subject to change.

Resources

COVID-19 (coronavirus): advice for Humanitarian Aid workers

Advice for UK humanitarian aid workers deployed overseas during COVID-19 pandemic Read more

Access to medications abroad during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Advice for British travellers overseas during the pandemic Read more

COVID-19: Travel advisory notice update

Foreign and Commonwealth Office updates travel advisory notice Read more
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