On 22 June 2018, the Government of Papua New Guinea notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of an outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus.
The Government of Papua New Guinea is working with partners, including WHO and UNICEF, to take appropriate outbreak response measures including contact tracing, testing and vaccination.
Polio is very unlikely to spread in Australia because of high rates of vaccine coverage, good sanitation, and the quality and ability of the health system to respond to cases.
The Australian Government continues to closely monitor the situation.
Public Health Emergency of International Concern
WHO has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) regarding the international spread of poliovirus. WHO has issued Temporary Recommendations under the International Health Regulations 2005 for affected countries to reduce the risk of the international spread of poliovirus.
Recommendations for Australian Travellers
Travel advice for Australians is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Smartraveller website.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends that Australians travelling to polio-affected countries should be up to date with routinely recommended vaccinations against polio, including boosters, prior to departure.
- Australian residents planning to visit PNG for less than 4 weeks should be up to date with their polio vaccination. For adults, this is a 3 dose primary course, with a booster within the last 10 years. For children, a 3 dose primary course with a booster at 4 years old is currently recommended. These recommended vaccines may be given before arrival in PNG.
- Australian residents travelling to PNG intending to stay for longer than 4 weeks should have a documented polio booster within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to the date of departure from PNG. The booster may be given before arrival in PNG, as long as it is given within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to leaving PNG.
- Individuals who are already residing in PNG for 4 weeks or longer should have a documented polio booster within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to departure from PNG (refer to WHO’s International Travel and Health website). The booster may have been given before arrival in PNG, as long as it has been given within 4 weeks to 12 months prior to leaving PNG. Individuals leaving PNG in less than 4 weeks should still receive a polio booster as this will still have benefit.
Consistent with WHO recommendations, polio-affected countries may require proof of vaccination when leaving the country.
Australian travellers should check their vaccination records and consult their general practitioner or travel doctor regarding their vaccination requirements.
Information for Health Professionals
The Australian Immunisation Handbook provides clinically-relevant information about the polio immunisation schedule in Australia.
For recommendations regarding the current outbreak of polio in PNG, refer to 2018 Outbreak of Polio in Papua New Guinea: Advice for Clinicians.
Australian Entry Requirements
The Department of Home Affairs website provides advice about entry requirements. Visa applicants from polio-affected countries, applying to come to Australia, may be required to provide a valid polio vaccination certificate.
There are no additional health entry requirements for Australian citizens or permanent residents as a result of this outbreak.
- For information about polio disease, refer to Polio Frequently Asked Questions.
- For information about vaccine-derived polioviruses, refer to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative website.
- For information about the status of polio in Australia, refer to Polio Surveillance.
- For information about the WHO’s work in Papua New Guinea, including media releases about WHO’s response to the outbreak, visit the WHO Papua New Guinea website.
- For technical information about the polio immunisation schedule in Australia, refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook