Israeli Health Authorities Launch Mass Polio Vaccination Program

The Health Ministry began a mass vaccination program against poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis) Tuesday in the Hadera area.

The ministry has reported seven confirmed cases of the disease and three “suspected” cases in the last few week. Most of the victims are residents of the victims are residents of Hadera, Or Akiva or other nearby towns.

Tests have indicated the presence of the polio virus in local sewage. Water and sewage samples are being taken all over the country.

Health Minister Shoshana Arbeli-Almoslino ordered the vaccination of all residents up to age 35, including newborn infants. She said 1,000 infants would receive the Salk vaccine Tuesday.

Beginning right after Yom Kippur on Thursday, 50,000 school children will get the Sabin vaccine, followed by 70,000 adults and pre-school children on Sunday.

Israeli health authorities explained that some infants cannot absorb the Sabin vaccine, which passes through their system and winds up in sewage. That may be one cause of the appearance of polio in the Hadera area, they said.

The ministry stressed that there is no polio epidemic in the country. Rather, an unexpectedly high number of cases have been diagnosed and the cause is being investigated.

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