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Health Ministry’s Anti-Polio Op Begins

Health Ministry urges vaccines after finding 2.5% of children in south carry polio virus.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/4/2013, 10:22 AM

Polio vaccination
Polio vaccination
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Health Ministry has kicked off a major operation to vaccinate children in southern Israel against the polio virus.

Fears of a polio outbreak were sparked earlier in the summer when the virus turned up in sewage samples in the region.

Further testing showed that roughly 2.5% of children in southern Israel, where many children have not been vaccinated, carry the virus.

So far there have been no cases of children contracting the virus.

For the next two months, health workers at local Tipat Chalav baby care clinics and nurses in local schools will extend their hours in order to give the polio vaccine to as many children as they can. When school starts, children age six and up will be able to receive the vaccine in school.

The weakened virus in the vaccine can on very rare occasions cause polio or allergic responses, a fact that led to debate in the Health Ministry over the vaccine operation. However, the latest findings led Ministry staff to decide that vaccination was the less risky of the available options.

The World Health Organization backs the new vaccination campaign. The WHO has warned that there is a moderate chance of polio spreading from Israel to surrounding countries.