Poliomyelitis (Polio) Vaccine



Polio Information

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that is easily spread through close personal contact with an infected person or through contaminated food or water. In some cases, it can lead to paralysis (the inability to move arms, legs, or other body parts), respiratory (breathing) failure and even death.

Polio has been virtually eliminated in the United States and many parts of the world, but clusters of cases and small outbreaks are still reported in some parts of the world.

Polio Vaccine Information

Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) has been given to protect people against polio since 1955. Although no wild polio case has been reported in the United States for over 20 years, children should continue to be vaccinated because polio is still common in some parts of the world and it can be easily reintroduced into this country by infected travelers.

This vaccine is given as an injection into the arm or thigh muscle, which is known as an intramuscular (IM) injection.

Who Should Receive the Polio Vaccine?

  • All infants and children.
  • Adults who have never been vaccinated against polio and are traveling to an area where polio is common.
  • Laboratory workers who have never been vaccinated against polio and are working with the poliovirus.
  • Healthcare workers who have never been vaccinated against polio and are treating patients who could have polio.

Polio Vaccine Schedule

Infants and children (Routine schedule)

  • Four doses: At 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and 4-6 years old

Children and adolescents, younger than 18 years old, who have never been vaccinated against polio:

  • Three doses: First dose, followed by a second dose 1-2 months after the first dose, followed by a third dose 6-12 months after the second dose

Adults age 18 and older

  • Three doses: First dose, followed by a second dose 1-2 months after the first dose, followed by a third dose 6-12 months after the second dose
  • Adults who have had a primary series of IPV and who are at increased risk or are traveling to areas where polio is common should also receive a single lifetime booster.

Accelerated alternative dosing is available if three doses of IPV cannot be administered within the recommended intervals.

IPV may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Side Effects

Mild-to-Moderate Problems

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given

Severe Problems (Rare)

  • Serious allergic reactions, with symptoms including:
    • -Difficulty breathing
    • -Wheezing
    • -Hives
    • -Pale skin
    • -Fast heartbeat
    • -Dizziness

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever.

It is extremely rare for this vaccine to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, call the doctor or seek immediate medical attention.

Who Should Not Receive the Polio Vaccination

  • Those with moderate or severe illness (for example, a severe cold, flu or infection of the sinuses or lungs) should not receive the vaccine until symptoms of the illness improve
  • Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should ask their doctor if they should receive the vaccine.
  • Persons with hypersensitivity or an allergy to the antibiotics neomycin, polymyxin B, and streptomycin.
  • Those who previously had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine should not be vaccinated.

Additional Information

Tell your doctor or a healthcare provider if the person getting the vaccine has any severe allergies.

Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit the CDC website, at  cdc.gov/vaccines, for more vaccine information.

This publication should be used for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Be sure to contact your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider for more information about human papillomavirus. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this publication.

References

Atkinson W, Hamborsky J, McIntyre L, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2007.

Vaccine Information Statement: polio vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). November 9, 2004. cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/default.htm. Accessed April 2008.


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