Kenyans visiting India will now have to take a full polio vaccination before commencing the trip. This is a new rule from the Indian government effective February 14. Whilst vaccinations for travelling are not a new thing, the mandatory call for full vaccination against the disease is new for countless Kenyans who regularly travel to ...

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Kenyans visiting India will now have to take a full polio vaccination before commencing the trip. This is a new rule from the Indian government effective February 14. Whilst vaccinations for travelling are not a new thing, the mandatory call for full vaccination against the disease is new for countless Kenyans who regularly travel to ...

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Kenyans visiting India will now have to take a full polio vaccination before commencing the trip. This is a new rule from the Indian government effective February 14. Whilst vaccinations for travelling are not a new thing, the mandatory call for full vaccination against the disease is new for countless Kenyans who regularly travel to and from India on business trips or medical and education purposes on Kenya Airways, Emirates, Air India or Jet Airways.

The introduction of new regulations by the Asian state also affects Pakistanis travelling to India, commencing this January. Whilst statistics show that Pakistan, along with Nigeria and Afghanistan, still have remnants polio, how is it that Kenya falls into this bracket? On November 19, last year, the Centre for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative reported 83 cases of polio from Somalia, 14 cases from Kenya and six from the Somali region in Ethiopia since April 2013.

These are the first wild-poliovirus cases reported in Somalia since 2007, in Kenya since July 2011 and in Ethiopia since 2008. Thus, CDC recommended that all travellers to Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults should receive a one-time booster dose of polio vaccine. Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that lives in the throat and intestinal tract.

It is most often spread through person-to-person contact with the stool of an infected person and may also be spread through oral/nasal secretions. Most people infected with the polio virus have no symptoms; however, for the less than one per cent who develop paralysis, it may result in permanent disability and even death. What are the implications? For most people, just as with yellow fever and other travel required- vaccinations, getting jabs or taking medicine to prevent disease can be a nuisance.

But beyond the inconvenience on time, ignoring recommended vaccinations is unwise. Because of the risk of cross-border transmission, CDC also recommends a one-time booster dose of polio vaccine for fully vaccinated adults who are traveling to Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Yemen to work in health care facilities, refugee camps, or other humanitarian aid settings. This kind of work might put people in contact with someone who has polio.

Also required, is a written record of vaccination preferably using IHR 2005 International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis from a hospital or Centre administering oral vaccines. The facility must be one authorised by the Kenyan Government. The full course of polio vaccination is valid for one year. “It is applicable to all travellers from all countries where polio disease is endemic or where cases of polio are reported. It is also applicable to Indian nationals travelling to and from these countries,” India said in a statement. - By Anne Mbotela

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