India today announced it would be mandatory for all persons – adults or children – travelling to the country from Pakistan to take an Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) from January 30 next year. "The step is being taken to safeguard India's polio-free status attained after sustained efforts and investment," said a statement from the Indian High Commission here.
"It is applicable to all travellers from all countries where polio disease is endemic or where cases of polio are reported," the statement said. "It is also applicable to Indian nationals travelling to and from these countries."
The OPV should be taken at least six weeks before departure to India but not more than a year before the trip, the statement said. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries where polio remains endemic.
Travellers from Pakistan will be required to carry their vaccination record because evidence of polio vaccination will be requested for entry into India.
Record of taking OPV should be obtained from an authorised medical centre in the format laid out in the International Certificate of Vaccination of the World Health Organisation's International Health Regulations of 2005.
Once administered, OPV remains effective for a year, after which vaccination should be taken again. The number of polio cases in Pakistan has touched 63 this year, up five from the whole of last year. Militants and gunmen frequently attack polio vaccination workers, accusing them of being Western spies and part of a plot to "sterilise" Muslims.
In June last year, the Taliban imposed a ban on polio vaccinations in parts of Pakistan's tribal belt, saying the restriction would last till US drone strikes cease.
Since then, at least 260,000 children in North and South Waziristan regions have not been vaccinated against polio.