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Poliovirus 'warning'

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

THE World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging local private security firms sending its personnel to poliovirus-infected countries to make arrangements on getting their staff members vaccinated with polio vaccines.

WHO's technical officer for expanded immunisation program Dr Jaya Prakash commended the steps taken by the Health Ministry and the RFMF in keeping Fijian troops safe.

"Fiji's RFMF personnel who are deployed to Israel and the West Bank receive a dose of OPV prior to travel. It is recommended by WHO that these personnel who receive one dose receive the one dose four weeks to 12 months prior to travel," Dr Prakash said.

He said soldiers maintained those measures until after six months had passed without the detection of the wild poliovirus transmission from any source.

He added troops should also continue with the vaccinations until "there is documentation of full application of high quality eradication activities in all infected and high risk areas".

"In the absence of such documentation, these measures should be maintained until at least 12 months have passed without evidence of transmission."

WHO and the Ministry of Health are vigilant about troops returning home from the Golan Heights because Syria has been identified as one of the 10 countries currently infected with wild poliovirus.

"The steps taken for the soldiers and members of the public returning from the infected countries are commendable.

"The routine immunisation coverage against polio in Fiji is very high at more than 95 per cent, which has been verified by an immunisation coverage survey in 2013.

"This high immunisation coverage provides the best defence against poliovirus importation. This defence along with the extra dose of OPV given to the soldiers and family will ensure protection."

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