Experts advise requiring immunizations for traveling from polio-endemic countries

An expert panel that advises the Global Polio Eradication Initiative recently recommended that those living in polio-endemic countries be required to have polio vaccinations before being allowed to travel abroad.

The Independent Monitoring Board, a group of experts that monitors the GPEI for the World Health Organization said anyone who lives in Afghanistan, Nigeria or Pakistan should be required to have the proper immunization before being allowed to leave, according to CIDRAP News.

“We recommend that the International Health Regulations Expert Review Committee urgently issue a standing recommendation by May 2013 that will introduce pre-travel vaccination or vaccination checks in each of these countries until national transmission is stopped,” the IMB said in its November report, CIDRAP News reports. “No country should allow a citizen from any endemic polio state to cross their border without a valid vaccination certificate.”

The IMB report recognized that its proposal may seem drastic to some, but considers such a measure appropriate given the circumstances and danger posed by a resurgence of the crippling childhood illness.

“Some will see this as [an] extreme move, but it is necessary,” the report said, according to CIDRAP News. “It is not the most extreme use of the International Health Regulations that could have been proposed.”

Although the GPEI will miss its goal of eradicating the disease entirely by the end of this year, the report was positive overall.

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