Sri Lanka advises pilgrims to India to take polio vaccine

December 16th, 2008 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 16 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry has advised India bound pilgrims to take the polio vaccine before leaving, following reports of a polio epidemic in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states, reports here said Tuesday.A large number of Sri Lankan Buddhists make pilgrimage to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where many Buddhist places of worship are located.

“There is a possibility that the dreaded disease could be spread in Sri Lanka through pilgrims returning, if they did not take precautionary measures,” a Health Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman also said that it was ‘mandatory’ that all pilgrims, irrespective of their age, get the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) two weeks before they leave the country for India “for their own protection and to prevent the disease spreading to Sri Lanka”.

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that have eradicated polio completely and there has been no report of any new patients since 1993.

Recommending that polio vaccine be taken at least two weeks prior to departure to India, the Health Ministry has said that the pilgrims could obtain their vaccines from the public health inspector of their respective areas free of charge.

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