The Health Ministry stated on Friday that the Polio vaccination project will be expanded to include children countrywide.
The campaign began on Monday in southern Israel, and starting on August 18 every child under nine will be vaccinated with a weakened form of the virus. So far 20,000 children were vaccinated in the south.
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The decision was made following a discussion held by Health Minister Yael German, top officials in the ministry and various experts.
Vaccinated in Beersheba (Photo: Reuters)
The ministry has already asked clinics on Thursday to prepare for the campaign's expansion, after samples taken from sewers last week pointed at the existence of the virus in Lod and Ramla's sewage treatment facilities, though it was not found in the rest of facilities in Israel's north and central districts.
"The complicated situation in which those born after 2005 are not vaccinated against carrying Polio and may form a base for the virus' spread," a Health Ministry statement said.
"Due to repeated examinations in the Ramla and Lod area, experts have decided to vaccinate all Israeli children born after 1.1.2004."
"The reasons which were at work in the south are relevant for the whole country," Prof. Alon Moses, director of the infectious diseases unit in Hadassa Hospital, explained.
"If they find Polio in the rest of the country then they should vaccinate there as well."
The Health Ministry will prepare accordingly to open Tipat Halav stations for extended hours starting on Sunday, August 18.
The goal initially set by the Polio vaccination campaign was at vaccinating half of the south district's population – some 150,000 children. But on Friday the ministry stated that only 100,000 need be vaccinated, a fifth of which already have.
Polio has been found in sewage in southern Israel a few months ago, and since then the Health Ministry have been vaccinated children from the area using dead virus which prevent infection, but allow carriage of the virus.
On Monday, the ministry began to use a live-weakened form of the virus which prevents the infection altogether.
"The purpose of vaccinated children under nine is to prevent the virus spreading to other areas in the country," said Chairman of the Pediatricians Union Prof. Eli Somech.
"The virus doesn't recognize geographic borders. The evidence of its existence in Ramla and Lod's sewage increase concerns of continued spread for a prolonged time, and for actual infections. The aim is to relieve the threat which has been in the air for several months."
The Health Ministry conducted thousands of fecal matter examinations in the south to ascertain who carries the virus, and 28 have been found, including 26 children under 10 years old who have been vaccinated, a two-month old baby and a 70-year-old man.
According to estimations, about 1,000 people carry the deadly virus in their intestines.
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