WHO temporary polio vaccine recommendations

Updated: July 27, 2016

Travel Health Notice

On May 12, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) reassessed the temporary polio recommendations and declared that the international spread of wild poliovirus continues to constitute a public health emergency of international concern. As such, the WHO temporary recommendations continue to be in place. The situation will be reassessed by the WHO within three months.

The WHO temporary recommendations currently apply to long term travellers (over 4 weeks) to:

Travellers to these countries should follow the recommendations outlined below.

Polio is a very contagious infection that is caused by the poliovirus. There are currently two types of poliovirus circulating in some countries which cause human infection:

If a population is fully immunized, they will be protected against both vaccine-derived and wild poliovirus.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative website offers additional detailed information regarding the temporary recommendations including weekly updates on the epidemiological situation and a breakdown of the number of cases of wild poliovirus by country.

The Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public as information becomes available.


Recommendations for travellers

Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel.

Follow the WHO temporary recommendations:

1) The WHO temporary recommendations apply to long term travellers (over 4 weeks) to Afghanistan and Pakistan. These countries have been designated as “States currently exporting wild poliovirus or cVDPV” by the WHO IHR Emergency Committee. The WHO recommendations state that these countries should ensure that long term travellers to these countries:

2) The WHO temporary recommendations apply to long term travellers to countries “infected with wild poliovirus or cVDPV but not currently exporting” (Burma (Myanmar), Guinea, Laos, Madagascar, Nigeria and Ukraine).  The WHO recommendations state that these countries should encourage that long term travellers to these countries:

3) Consult the Travel Health Notice on Polio: Global Update for further recommendations for travellers.

For additional information, WHO has developed frequently asked questions for travellers about the temporary recommendations.

Recommendations for health care providers

The Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT) has developed a statement in accordance with the WHO temporary recommendations to provide guidance for health care professionals who are preparing travellers to visit areas with a risk of polio. For the latest updates on Temporary Recommendations to Reduce International Spread of Poliovirus please consult the Global Eradication Initiative

It is recommended that travellers affected by these temporary recommendations carry a written vaccination record in the event that evidence of vaccination is requested for country entry or exit requirements. The International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis  is the official document to show proof of vaccination against polio. It is currently available at Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada.  A complete list of these centres is available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.


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