Declaring a war against deadly polio virus, Israel carried an extensive anti-polio drive by vaccinating over 30,000 children under 9 years of age on Sunday. The anti-polio operation is expected to last 60 days.

According to the reports, around 1,000 Tipat Halav children’s clinics across the country gave oral vaccination to children born after January 1, 2004.

The Health Ministry issuing a statement in this regard has urged all the parents to take their children to the nearest Tipat Halav clinic for vaccination.

“The danger from this disease is real and imminent, and is not expected to disappear if the children are not vaccinated,” the ministry statement said.

Health Ministry Director General Roni Gamzo had stressed the importance of the vaccination earlier this month.

The polio virus “is spreading. We must stop it,” he had told Army Radio.

Amid the fears of vaccination being unsafe for children, Gamzo had reassured parents that the vaccinations were safe and carried no significant side effects.

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The vaccine contains a drastically weakened strain of the virus which will spread from the children and immunize the population as a whole. Approximately one million doses are required to meet the need of the operation. As per the initial reports, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline have been ordered to provide the vaccines at a cost of approximately NIS 1 ($0.28) per dose.

Brief history

Polio has been a crucial health issue for the world and necessary actions have been taken time and again by the global bodies to combat its spread.

One person in every 200 who gets infected with the virus at its full strength suffers damage to their nervous system. This leads to varying levels of paralysis. A global effort to eradicate the virus has led to the decline of polio cases from 350,000 (25 years ago) to just 223 in 2012.

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The virus is believed to have arrived in Israel from Egypt, where polio was discovered in sewage last December.

According to the Health Ministry, the virus first arrived in Israel in February, crossing the border from Egypt to the southern Bedouin city of Rahat. It was first detected in Rahat’s sewage in late May.

The last polio outbreak in Israel occurred in 1988. Sixteen Israelis had suffered paralysis at that time. A rigourous anti-polio exercise was carried to contain the virus.