Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

Routine administration of oral polio vaccine in a subtropical area. Factors possibly influencing sero-conversion rates*

T. A. Swartza1, Paulina Skalskaa2, C. G. Gerichtera2 and W. C. Cockburna3

a1 Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Asaf Harofe Hospital, Tel-Aviv University Medical School, Zerifin, Beer Taakov, Israel

a2 Central Virological Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Jaffa, Israel

a3 Virus Diseases Unit, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland


Poliomyelitis is an important problem of public health in warm-climate countries. Studies of serological responses to vaccination in these countries have given conflicting results but in many investigations the rates have been considerably less than in countries with temperate climates. In this study three possible factors influencing sero-conversion were investigated – the season of the year when vaccine was given, the social status of the mother (as indicated by the number of years of schooling) and the presence of non-poliomyelitis viruses (NPV) in the gut when vaccine was given.

Over 200 children about 2 months of age were included in the study. Each was given three doses of trivalent vaccine at 6-week intervals.

The sero-conversion rates of the groups fed in winter were excellent but were slightly less good in summer. The differences were greatest in children in the lower socio-economic groups and in children excreting other enteroviruses.

The conclusions are that, provided a potent vaccine is used, the factors which diminish the effectiveness of immunization in warm-climate countries can be overcome: (1) by giving three doses of trivalent vaccine; (2) by beginning vaccination at the earliest possible age (when enteroviruses are fewest); (3) by concentrating special attention on the lower socio-economic groups and if necessary by giving a reinforcing dose several months after the third dose has been given – preferably in the colder months.

(Received May 04 1972)


* This investigation was supported by a grant from the World Health Organization.