Ministry returns OPV to vaccine schedule

Oral polio vaccine will again be given to all babies, after being discontinued 9 years ago when the virus was deemed no longer a threat.

polio vaccine illustrative 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas)
polio vaccine illustrative 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas)
Health Minister Yael German decided on Sunday to restore the oral polio vaccine to the regular vaccination schedule given to all babies.
OPV will be administered in addition to the regular injected polio vaccine (IPV) – nine years after it was discontinued because the wild polio virus was no longer considered a threat. German accepted recommendations made by two committees of experts on Friday.
During the last two months, 850,000 children up to the age of 10 have been given two drops of the OPV to prevent the spread of wild polio virus in the environment that apparently reached the south of the country from someone coming from Egypt. No one has been infected with the paralytic disease of polio, as more than 98 percent of the relevant population have already received IPV.
OPV had been removed from the routine vaccination schedule at the recommendation of the World Health Organization because Israel and other members of the European division of the WHO were considered polio-free.
The OPV is given only after children have already received IPV.
OPV, an attenuated-virus vaccine, will be given from now on to newborns after they get IPV. It has not been decided how many doses will be given and at what intervals.
Ministry officials said there is no risk to children with weak immune systems because the two types of vaccine together allow only minimal release of the attenuated virus into the environment over a period of just two or three weeks.
German said that an additional dose of OPV would soon be given to children in Beduin settlements in the south because the wild polio virus there had not yet been wiped out.