The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) report today that long-term residents or returnees from Ukraine may need a booster vaccine in light of the recent case reported.
In Ukraine, an unvaccinated infant contracted a poliovirus stroke in September and has therefore been hospitalized. In addition, a few people close to the child have been diagnosed with asymptomatic polio infection. The pathogen is a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.
The WHO and local authorities are working together to identify possible other infections and assess the risk of polio spreading in the area. Cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus were last detected in Ukraine in 2015.
Officials say Finns are well protected from polio. The vaccine is available free of charge as part of a national vaccination program. Children receive polio protection as part of a reference vaccine at 3, 5, and 12 months of age, and protection is enhanced at 4 years of age. The coverage of polio vaccinations in Finnish children is high, more than 98 percent.
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An adult must also make sure that he or she has received a total of three doses of the polio vaccine during his or her lifetime.
The polio vaccination series provides excellent protection against severe paralysis symptoms of polio. There is usually no need to increase protection.
However, the booster vaccine is recommended for those leaving or arriving in polio risk countries if they intend to stay or have stayed in the area for a longer period of time.
THL recommends polio vaccination if more than 12 months have elapsed since the previous vaccination and the person
- travel for more than four weeks to Ukraine or another country where the risk of getting polio is high
- comes to Finland after staying in a high-risk country for more than four weeks.
Polio was declared eradicated from Europe in 2002. Wild polio is only found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The disease, caused by vaccine-derived modified polioviruses, has been detected this year in several Asian and African countries.
THL monitors the possible circulation of polioviruses in the population by searching for viruses in wastewater samples. The last polio case in Finland was detected in 1985.
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