Polio returns to Philippines after 19 years

Polio vaccination

There is an outbreak of polio in the Philippines and travellers are advised to ensure they are vaccinated against the disease.

The disease is re-emerging in the country 19 years after it was declared polio-free, according to the Department of Health. Health Secretary Francisco Duque said government scientists have confirmed the re-emergence of the disease. He said that this is due, in part, to poor immunisation coverage, lack of sanitation and proper hygiene and poor surveillance by health workers.

The disease is re-emerging in the country 19 years after it was declared polio-free

Polio is a serious viral infection that causes temporary or permanent paralysis, which can be life threatening. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that, in addition to the need for all travellers to the Philippines to be fully vaccinated, adults who have already been fully vaccinated 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,” it states on its website.

The CDC said that, for travellers who intend to be in the Philippines for four weeks, the Philippine Government may require proof of polio vaccination before they leave the country. “To meet this requirement, you should get the polio vaccine between four weeks and 12 months before you leave the Philippines. Talk to your doctor about whether this requirement applies to you,” it told travellers.