Israeli Health Minister Yael German said on Wednesday that new lab results show the polio “virus is migrating north and spreading.”
Traces of the virus have now been discovered near Hadera, in a sewage purification plant in Baqa al-Gharbiyye. It was the most northerly point where it’s been found following the rare outbreak a few weeks ago in the south.
A Health Ministry official pointed out that “the virus’ northward migration proves there’s a need for a nationwide vaccination of children,” which is already underway, with the aim of vaccinating 1 million children by November.
A nurse in a Tipat Halav infirmary in the Hadera district told Ynet that 200 children from the area were vaccinated on Tuesday after hearing that the virus was in the vicinity.
The polio virus was also discovered in the city of Ofakim in southern Israel, which had until now been outside the region of the vaccination program.
There have been no clinical cases of the virus, so far.
In an effort to encourage compliance with the program, President Shimon Peres met with children getting vaccinations at a Yerushalayim clinic on Wednesday. He recalled the suffering his family endured when one of his children was stricken by polio as an infant.
So far, 182,000 children aged nine and under have been vaccinated.