Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

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Papua New Guinea: Polio Outbreak 2018

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 an importation from Papua New Guinea 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 Papua New Guinea can be found on the World Health Organization 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 Papua New Guinea 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 in PNG.
  • New Zealand residents travelling to Papua New Guinea 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 from Papua New Guinea The booster may be given before arrival in PNG, as long as it is given within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to leaving Papua New Guinea
  • Individuals who are already residing in PNG for 4 weeks or longer should have a documented polio booster within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to departure from Papua New Guinea. The booster may have been given before arrival in PNG, as long as it has been given within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to leaving Papua New Guinea. Individuals leaving PNG 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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