Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

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Outbreaks of Polio

In September 2019, an outbreak of polio was declared in the Philippines.

In July 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced a situational update on circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 outbreaks in the WHO African and Eastern Mediterranean regions.

In June 2018 an outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus was declared by the Papua New Guinea Government in Morobe province. In July 2018, preparations for implementation of large scale immunization activities and intensified surveillance measures began.

The overall risk of a polio disease transmission in New Zealand due to importation is very low. The risk of ongoing transmission in New Zealand is also very low, due to high vaccine coverage of the general population, high levels of sanitation, and the ability of the health system to respond to cases. 

The New Zealand Ministry of Health continues to closely monitor the situation.

More information about the situation in  infected regions can be found on the World Health Organisation and Global Polio Eradication Initiative websites.

Health advice

Infections from vaccine-derived poliovirus occur on occasion in countries still using live poliovirus vaccine. Vaccination against polio before travel will protect against these outbreaks. New Zealand does not use live poliovirus vaccine.

New Zealanders travelling to polio-affected countries should be up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including boosters, prior to departure.

  • New Zealand residents planning to visit these regions for less than 4 weeks should be up to date with their polio vaccination. For adults, this is a 3 dose primary course, with a booster within the last 10 years. For children, a 3 dose primary course with a booster at 4 years old is currently recommended. These recommended vaccines may be given before arrival into the region.
  • New Zealand residents intending to stay for longer than 4 weeks should have a documented polio booster within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to the date of departure .The booster may be given before arrival, as long as it is given within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to leaving the region .
  • Individuals who are already residing in the affected region for 4 weeks or longer should have a documented polio booster within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to departure. The booster may have been given before arrival, as long as it has been given within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to leaving. Individuals leaving in less than 4 weeks should still receive a polio booster as this will still have benefit.
  • Travellers should be provided with a written record of such vaccination, preferably using the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, and keep this record during international travels.

This advice is in addition to any other travel specific vaccinations that may be required.

Polio has been eradicated from New Zealand and from most of the countries around the world. An updated list of states still infected with a poliovirus can be found here.

Useful links:

-          Polio Global Eradication Initiative

-          World Health Organization. “Vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines.”

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