Here's everything you need to know about the polio vaccine for your child

The Health Ministry recently announced a nationwide vaccine campaign for polio, directed at children. Here is everything you need to know about it.

 Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Health Ministry Director-General Professor Nachman Ash and Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry attend a press conference about the Polio vaccine in Tel Aviv, on April 26, 2022 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Health Ministry Director-General Professor Nachman Ash and Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of public health services at the Health Ministry attend a press conference about the Polio vaccine in Tel Aviv, on April 26, 2022
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

After two years of hearing about COVID-19 — and the vaccines for it — on a daily basis, the Health Ministry has now announced a new vaccination campaign, one we thought was part of history. After an outbreak of the polio virus for the first time in a decade, and following alarming evidence that polio is already in various areas around the country, the Ministry announced a new vaccine completion booster campaign called "2 drops 2022.”

"The only way to beat polio, just as we have in the past, is to prevent infection and spread and this is done through vaccination," the ministry said, adding "only a child who’s fully vaccinated is protected and protects other children."

So, who should get vaccinated now? Here are the details

Children from six-weeks to a-year-and-a-half:

For these children, the polio vaccine is part of the regular routine of vaccines given at baby wellness/development clinics, but the Health Ministry has called for the first two routine vaccines to be given earlier than usual (the "pentagonal" vaccine including mumps, measles etc.) at 6 weeks and 10 weeks old. The rest of the vaccines will be given according to the routine immunization schedule.

 A child receives free polio vaccine during a government-led mass vaccination program in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 14, 2019. (credit: ELOISA LOPEZ/ REUTERS) A child receives free polio vaccine during a government-led mass vaccination program in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 14, 2019. (credit: ELOISA LOPEZ/ REUTERS)

Children from the age of one-and-a-half to the age of nine:

No need for a booster. The ministry has stated that children who are vaccinated according to their age are on a vaccination schedule and will receive vaccines adhering to the standard immunization program.

Children ages nine to 17:

For these ages it’s slightly more complex.

The Health Ministry explained that children born between 2005 and 2013 weren’t vaccinated with the attenuated (weakened) live vaccine according to the current vaccination routine, since the vaccine was given outside of the schedule following the outbreak of polio in southern Israel in 2013.

Most children ages nine-to-17 were vaccinated with only one dose as part of the first vaccination campaign, the ministry explained, and therefore most need to have the second bOPV vaccine dose as part of the current campaign.

Are your children immunized against polio? 

If you’re unsure if your kids are immunized, the first step is to check their immunization records.

If you don’t find the booklet which lists all the vaccines administered, in most cases the child development clinics and schools have computerized records; don’t hesitate to contact them.

If you’re still unsure, contact the Health Center at *5400.

Where can I get vaccinated against polio? 

Take your children, up until they are six-years-old, as well as those who haven’t been vaccinated against polio at all, to your local child development clinic.

Children aged seven and over will be vaccinated with the attenuated live vaccine at local clinics of each health fund.

So why get a polio vaccine?

Polio doesn’t just mean a experiencing a high fever and some muscle weakness. If the virus enters the throat, there's a chance it could lead to death within two hours. 

Additionally, even after the virus leaves the body, the effects of it may still be experienced — this is known as post-polio syndrome.

The vaccine, first administered in the mid-1950s, is the most effective means of preventing infection with the virus and protecting against the disease. It’s effective and safe, and has led to the eradication of polio in places where there’s a strict adherence to relatively high immunization coverage.

What are the side effects of the polio vaccine? 

Polio vaccines are safe and effective. Some kids may develop mild side effects such as fever and a local allergic reaction. These symptoms usually go away within a few days.