Israel’s Children Polio Vaccination Campaign Scores a Win

Israel's Operation Two Drops polio vaccine program reached over two million children
Tel Aviv Beach
by Volker Glätsch
Israel (Vax Before Travel)

When Israel’s Ministry of Health launched an urgent polio vaccination campaign in March 2022, most parents were unaware of the risks and benefits for their children.

However, as the Health Ministry prepares to end this polio vaccination offering, new data indicates it has been successful among most infants and young children.

Israel Hayom reported on June 27, 2022, that 96% of infants were vaccinated compared to 81% before the campaign. 

And the vaccination rate among toddlers aged 18 months to nine years old increased from 69% to 73%. 

And even adolescents and older teenagers to 17 years increased their polio immunization rate by over 100%, from 3% to 7%. 

Israel initially launched Operation "Two Drops" in Jerusalem, then during April 2022, expanded it to reach about two million young people.

Israel’s efforts are not alone.

Leaders at last week’s Group of Seven (G7) Head of State meeting in Germany renewed global commitment to polio eradication. In their official Communiqué, they vowed to ‘continue our support for polio eradication through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.’

These commitments follow similar engagements made by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2022.

The WHO recently stated, ‘recent efforts have had a clear impact on the global epidemiology of poliovirus, with endemic wild poliovirus transmission at reduced levels, with just Pakistan and Afghanistan remaining endemic, and efforts to curb circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) showing fruit.’ 

However, experts pointed to new wild poliovirus cases confirmed in Pakistan (the first cases reported in 15 months), wild poliovirus detected in south-east Africa (the first on the African continent since 2016), and polio re-emergence in Israel.

Furthermore, the UK Heath Security Agency announced on June 22, 2022, that it had found poliovirus in sewage samples collected in London.

“Worrying developments in recent months highlight how fragile this progress is,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, addressing the Assembly.

On June 24, 2022, the WHO Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for a further three months. 

And the committee highlighted the delays concerning the importance of timely, quality outbreak response with countries avoiding timely response with monovalent OPV2 or trivalent OPV, preferring to wait for novel OPV2 to become available.

Approximately 370 million doses of nOPV2 have been administered across twenty-one countries under its WHO Emergency Use Listing to date. An additional seventeen countries have met the requirements for nOPV2 use in the event of an outbreak.

The nOPV2 polio vaccine is derived from the live, infectious virus, but it has been 'triple-locked' using genetic engineering to prevent it from becoming harmful. 

As a result, nOPV2 is genetically more stable with a lower risk of reversion to neurovirulence. 

Most countries recommend infants get vaccinated to protect against poliomyelitis as soon as possible.

As of July 3, 2022, different polio vaccines are authorized in Canada, the U.K., and the USA. Several contain one, a combination of two, or all three different serotypes in one vaccine. 

Since 2000, the USA has often received an inactivated polio vaccine.

To notify international travelers of their polio risks, the U.S. CDC’s Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions, remains active as of July 3, 2022.

The CDC says, ‘Before international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series.’

Polio vaccination services are offered at certified travel pharmacies and clinics.

Additional polio outbreak news is posted at

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