Frequently Asked Questions


Polio and Polio Campaigns

How does the Poliovirus spread?
  • Polio is caused by a human enterovirus called the poliovirus. The virus is most often spread by the fecal-oral route. Poliovirus enters through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Infected individuals shed poliovirus into the environment for several weeks, where it can spread rapidly through a community, especially in areas of poor sanitation. Poliomyelitis can affect any age, but primarily involves children ages less than 5 years and can cause paralysis or even death.

The Polio Vaccine

What types of polio vaccines are there? What is the difference between OPV and IPV?
  • Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is safe and effective and given multiple times, it offers long-lasting protection against the poliovirus.
    • OPV is administered orally and does not require health professionals or sterile needle syringes. As such, OPV is easy to administer in mass vaccination campaigns that take place in Pakistan.
    • Moreover, for several weeks after vaccination the vaccine virus replicates in the intestine, is excreted and can be spread to others in close contact. This means that in areas with poor hygiene and sanitation, immunization with OPV can result in ‘passive’ immunization of people who have not been vaccinated.
  • IPV, or inactivated polio vaccine, is an extremely safe vaccine and highly effective in protecting children from polio. It produces antibodies in the blood against poliovirus and, unlike OPV, it has limited ability to stop the spread of virus in a community. This is why in the polio-endemic countries such as Pakistan, OPV is the predominant vaccine used in the fight to eradicate the virus. Administering IPV requires trained health workers, as well as sterile injection equipment and procedures
    • Combining OPV and IPV provides stronger protection against polio. IPV strengthens immunity in the blood while OPV strengthens immunity in the gut.
    • IPV has been introduced into the routine schedule across Pakistan to give children the best protection against polio. The current routine immunization schedule recommends one dose of IPV and multiple doses of OPV for full protection against polio.
    • Once polio is eradicated, IPV will be the only vaccine available for routine use.

Islamic Guidance

What is the Islamic guidance on polio vaccine?
  • Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is safe and has been declared halal by Islamic leaders all over the world – the Grand Sheik Tantawi of Al-Azhar University, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and the Majelis Council of Ulemmas in Indonesia. Other prominent international institutions endorsing OPV include Dar al Uloom Deo-Band, India; the Organization of the Islamic Conference; the International Union for Muslim Scholars (Mufti Dr. Yousuf al-Qaradawi); Imam of Masjid Al Aqsa (Bait ul Muqades) and other prominent scholars and muftis from all sects in all provinces of Pakistan.
  • The Government of Saudi Arabia has made it mandatory for Haj travellers from polio-endemic countries to take the polio vaccine irrespective of age and previous vaccination status.

Polio Vaccination for International travellers of all ages

Why is polio vaccination required for international travelers of all ages?
  • Polio vaccination is required for all international travelers from Pakistan, regardless of age, to prevent the spread of poliovirus to other countries. Pakistan remains among the only two countries in the world where wild poliovirus remains in circulation, so it is crucial to make sure everyone crossing borders or traveling from infected countries gets vaccinated. Unvaccinated people can get infected with poliovirus and spread it to others too. Polio vaccination prior to travel helps protect travelers and stops the virus from spreading globally.
  • International recommendations on polio vaccination for travelers, which are based on WHO’s International Health Regulations, can be found here: