In September, the Department of Health (DOH) declared a polio outbreak in the Philippines, almost two decades after it was free of the virus. Because of this, other countries require Filipino travelers to present an International Certificate of Vaccination (ICV) against polio.
Basics of polio vaccination
Polio vaccine has two types: Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV).
For the vaccine to take its full effect, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended to get three doses of OVP and a dose of IPV, which contains a live, weakened virus that may cause the vaccine-derived polio virus (VDPV).
The vaccination schedule for preventing polio, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) involves 3 doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and one dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).
Polio immunization is commonly administered to children 5 years old and below, who are considered as most vulnerable to the illness.
Despite that, adults from infected areas are still advised to have themselves an additional booster dose, even if they have completed their booster as a child.
The WHO said in its website that those who travel from infected areas must get additional dose of vaccine in 4 weeks to 12 months of travel. This is not only to boost their immunity, but to also lessen the risk of transferring the virus in an area free of polio.
“Some polio-free countries may require such travellers from polio-infected countries to provide documentation of recent vaccination against polio in order to obtain an entry visa, or they may require that travellers receive an additional dose of polio vaccine on arrival, or both,” WHO said.
In addition, the Department of Health (DOH) also said it is best for departing travelers to review the immunization requirements of their country destination, and to get a dose of IPV.
So far, at least 19 countries are requiring Filipino travelers to present their ICV as a proof that they have been immunized against polio.
How to get your polio vaccine certificate?
Here’s what you need to do if you’re set to visit other countries:
- Inquire about the country’s immunization requirements by contacting their embassy or by coordinating with a consulate in the Philippines. If they require you an ICV against polio, then you need to receive a booster shot.
- You can get vaccinated either in a private hospital or directly at the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), which releases the ICV you will be needing to present. However, the BOQ only administers OPV and you have to go to a private hospital or doctor if you want the IPV.
- In case you will choose to get the vaccine from a private doctor, he/she has provided you a signed medical certificate which includes the name and the lot number of the vaccine given to you.
- Bring the medical certificate to BOQ, then accomplish a form for the ICV releasing. You can let a messenger or third party do this by giving him/her an authorization letter.
- The BOQ will require you to pay P300 for the ICV fee. Don’t worry, though it may take you a few hours to wait, you’ll still be able to receive on the same day. The certificate does not have an expiration and it should serve you as long as you don’t lose it.