Oral vaccine is mandatory for those going to or coming from 8 countries

Special counters have been set up at international airports in the State to administer oral polio vaccine (OPV) for persons undertaking urgent travel to and from eight polio-affected countries.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are polio-endemic countries, while five others – Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Syria and Cameroon — got infected from the endemic countries in 2013, according to health officials.

The Government of India had made it mandatory for travellers to and from these countries to take a single dose of OPV in an effort to prevent the importation of poliovirus into the country.

Following this, the State’s public health department has made arrangements to administer OPV to travellers and issue vaccination certificates at designated centres and international airports – Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchirapalli, officials said.

“We are concentrating on covering all persons travelling to and coming from these eight countries. They should get vaccinated against polio and get the certificate from the authorised centres,” K. Kolandaswamy, director of public health and preventive medicine said.

Travellers of all age groups should get one dose of OPV at least four weeks prior to travel.

Short-notice trips

In case, any person has to undertake urgent travel to these countries or arrives here on short notice without vaccination, special booths have been set up at the international airports, another official said.

“We had asked airport authorities to set up these booths. Those who come without vaccination will be picked up at the immigration points, he added.

City travellers, who have planned trips to these countries, can approach the King Institute of Preventive Medicine, Guindy, the Chennai Corporation health officer and Port health office for the OPV and vaccination certificate. Those in other districts can approach the deputy directors of health services.

He said this vaccination certificate has to be submitted along with the application for visa processing. Passengers should carry the certificate during travel as it will be checked at immigration points at airports.

It was in March that the World Health Organisation certified the South-East Asian region as ‘polio-free’. These measures are crucial to protect children from poliovirus, he mentioned.