On Thursday, the Health Ministry disclosed that the polio vaccination campaign ongoing in the country for the last few months had been quite successful. It also announced that the vaccine would not be given to children above the age of six.
Good vaccination rate
According to the Health Ministry’s statement, they decided to do so after surveys revealed that there was a 99% rate of polio vaccination seen in children. This applied to kids falling between the ages that are considered at high risk of the virus i.e. six weeks to 18 months.
Back in March, the polio vaccination rates in this age group had been 81%. This was when Israel diagnosed its first clinical polio case in an unvaccinated 4-year old girl after 34 years. She was brought to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and had then been shifted to a specialist hospital after her muscles were harmed by the virus.
As for all age groups, the Health Ministry said that the polio vaccination rate in Israel is about 85%. It said that the rise in the number of shots administered since March was undoubtedly impressive.
Disappearance of polio
The public health services’ head, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis said that polio was disappearing from Israel and that was certainly a good thing. According to the Ministry, the last positive test of polio they had conducted was on May 30th and it had been found in Jerusalem. Alroy-Preis said that they hadn’t had a positive case since then and stressed that it was the ministry’s campaign that had made it happen.
The ministry further said that even though they had found the virus in Jerusalem’s sewage, they had also seen a decline in the rate of such discoveries. Alroy-Preis asserted that the biggest achievement of the campaign was that they had not found any new clinical case since they launched campaign. She added that Jerusalem’s Haredi community had a vaccination rate of 100%.
Coordination with WHO
The Health Ministry stated that they were coordinating with the World Health Organization (WHO) during the campaign. It also said that they had been commended for their quick decision making, organization as well as public communication.
The first polio case had been diagnosed in Israel in March and there had been several positive cases in children, but they were mostly asymptomatic. While the number of cases were low, the WHO said that they were still considered an outbreak. This is because developed countries are regarded as completely free of polio and even a few cases can result in a spread.
Therefore, the Health Ministry had launched its aggressive vaccination campaign and it is now finally ending. Experts have said that Israel needed the vaccination campaign and it had proven to be effective in increasing protection against the virus. They said that while the risk of polio exists, the risk of specific people suffering from it is now low. Toddlers in the country now have better protection, which is a good thing because they play a significant role in its spread.