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Polio – is spinal palsy, an acute infectious disease caused by the polio virus, which belongs to the group of intestinal viruses. It is very stable in the external environment and, unfortunately, is not destroyed by digestive juices. Poliomyelitis – it is indeed a dangerous disease that caused major epidemics before the invention of a vaccine against it.
According to the Ministry of Health, in early March, a four-year-old child from Jerusalem was infected with the polio virus. Then an asymptomatic virus was found in eight more children, this has not been seen for many years! According to the Israeli Minister of Health, only one child of all those infected was vaccinated.
As a result, an outbreak of polio was declared in the country. In “Maccabi” We have now set up an emergency phone line for making appointments for vaccinations.
About the current outbreak of polio and vaccination against this disease, we spoke with a specialist in vaccination and epidemiological investigations of the Maccabi Health Insurance Fund; nurse Elina Becker.
– Elina, please tell us about what is happening and what is the situation in the country with the incidence rate now?
“We haven't heard the word 'poliomyelitis' for many years. Prior to the current outbreak, the last case of paralytic disease in Israel was in 1988. And unfortunately, we are now one of the few countries that still hasn't eradicated polio, along with Pakistan and Nigeria. One symptomatic child – this is not an accident, in most cases – approximately 80-90% – the disease is asymptomatic. Children are usually infected, and due to the absence of symptoms, the disease is not detected, and the virus continues to spread further.
– How can the virus be detected early?
– Approximately 20 out of 100 cases have unidentifiable symptoms – mild malaise, fever, headaches or indigestion, so it is very difficult to diagnose polio. So if doctors have even the slightest concern, they conduct a special analysis of feces, because this virus multiplies and exits through the intestinal tract.
– What is the danger of the polio virus?
– In about 1 in 100 infected people, the disease manifests itself in the form of paralysis. The virus from the intestines can enter the circulatory system and through it into the nervous system, and this leads to the complete or partial destruction of nerve cells. Most often this happens in the cells responsible for the motor function of the muscles, and can lead to weakening or paralysis of the limbs – one or two legs, and in severe cases all four limbs.
The most dangerous thing that can happen – this is a paralysis of the diaphragm, since it also consists of muscle tissue. This can lead to severe breathing problems and the need for mechanical ventilation.
Unfortunately, there are no cures for this disease, there is only symptomatic treatment of the consequences – pain relief medications, mechanical ventilation, physiotherapy – if mobility impairments have already occurred.
The most effective method of protection against poliomyelitis – prevent disease and further spread of the virus through vaccinations. They are effective and safe, they have been used for decades, they have been received for several generations.
– As far as we know, on April 26, a vaccination project called “Two Drops” started?
– That's right, “2 drops”. It is important to note that there are 2 types of vaccinations:
The first is inoculation of an inactivated virus. it has been used in Israel since 1957 to this day. This is an intramuscular injection, children are vaccinated at Tipat Freebies. in 4 stages and additionally – in second grade.
During an outbreak, the timing of the first two doses varies, with children receiving them slightly earlier. This is a common practice in Israel from the state vaccination program.
What is now called «2 drops», — this is a vaccination with a weakened live virus through the mouth, and exactly 2 drops! This vaccine has been used since 1961 as part of the Israeli state vaccination program.
Until 2005, both types of vaccinations were present in the vaccination program. From 1995 to 2005, there was not a single case of polio in the country, so in 2005 it was decided to remove the vaccine against this disease from the Israeli vaccination list, similar to a similar decision in America.
Until 2013, no vaccinations were given. But in Israel, sewage is constantly being tested to detect this virus. After all, since the poliovirus multiplies and is excreted through the intestinal system, it can be found in the sewers. In 2013, this happened in the South of the country, but there was not a single case of a clinical disease.
Then the first action “2 drops” took place, in which children born in 2005-2013 were vaccinated. Then they gave one dose of the vaccine, and not all 100% of unvaccinated children received it, although the percentage was quite high.
Since 2014, the polio vaccine in drops has been returned to the vaccination program. But in order to fully protect yourself, you need to get 2 types of vaccinations – both an injection with an inactivated virus, and drops with a weakened live virus.
– Why is it necessary to get two types of vaccinations?
– They work a little differently: when we receive an injection, our immune system produces antibodies that protect us at the level of blood circulation, that is, if the virus enters the bloodstream, it cannot cause disease.< br />
But at the same time, if we are not vaccinated with a weakened virus, we do not develop the second type of antibodies – local importance. These antibodies protect us when the virus enters the intestines. Don't let it multiply, spread, and stand out if you do become infected.
People vaccinated with two types of vaccine will not only not get sick, but will not spread the virus, which will protect not only themselves, but also people at risk (these are people with genetic diseases, cancer patients or those who take drugs with a strong influence on the immune system).
– Elina, please tell me, what age is covered by the vaccination campaign announced now in Israel?
– The current campaign covers all children from 0 to 17 years old, i.e. from 2005 to 2022. Naturally, children born after 2014 receive this vaccination as part of the Israeli state vaccination program. But, unfortunately, not everyone is vaccinated with a weakened virus, for one reason or another. This vaccination has certain counter-indications, sometimes temporary. This year we want to reach children who have not been vaccinated with two doses of the drop vaccine.
I want to remind you that in 2013 children were vaccinated with one dose, and then not everyone received it. Therefore, it is very important for all parents of children under 17 years of age to check their vaccination cards and make sure that 2 doses have been received. The vaccine is called "פוליו דרך הפה", «polyo by mouth" or in English “OPV”. In case of absence, please contact your health insurance fund to receive a full vaccination course. If you have any questions – contact your doctor, nurses, you can also get an initial consultation by phone – in “Maccabi” there is a Maccabi Without Break call center so that specialists can check whether your child needs vaccination or not.
opened a special center for registration for vaccination at the place of residence. To enroll your child quickly and easily, just call *3555, select your language and press *2.
Get detailed information about the Maccabi Health Insurance Fund, as well as go to it or enroll in for the first time, you can follow the link:
Just leave your details, and the ticket office will contact you and do everything necessary.
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