CHA News Article

CDC Guidance on International Spread of Polio Includes WHO Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance to U.S. clinicians on the new World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination requirements for travel by residents of and long-term visitors to countries with active polio transmission. Last month, the WHO director-general accepted the recommendations of an Emergency Committee, declaring the international spread of polio to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) under the authority of the International Health Regulations (IHR), and issued traveler vaccination requirements to prevent further spread of the disease. At this time, the U.S. government is not expected to implement requirements for entry into the U.S., but clinicians should be aware of possible new vaccination requirements for patients planning travel for greater than four weeks to countries with ongoing polio virus transmission.

IHR is an international agreement among countries to prevent, protect or control the international spread of disease. The “temporary recommendations” in response to this PHEIC, the second ever to be issued under IHR, will be reviewed and possibly revised by WHO’s Emergency Committee in three months. The burden for enforcement of the polio vaccination requirements under the declaration lies with polio-affected countries.