Polio VaccineEn Español (Spanish Version)
is a serious illness caused by a virus. It still affects many parts of the world. It is nearly eliminated in the US. It can cause:
The polio virus can be spread by person to person contact and by contaminated water. Anyone can develop this infection.
This disease affected thousands of children each year prior to 1950 when the polio vaccine was developed. The use of the vaccine has made polio rare in developed nations.
Most people who get the infection have no symptoms at all. But some people can develop the following:
- Mild fever
- Sore throat
- Abdominal pain
There is no cure for polio. Treatment aims to manage the symptoms of the disease
The polio vaccine is made of inactivated polio virus. An oral vaccine containing live polio vaccine was used in the past. There was a small risk of getting polio from the oral vaccine. It is no longer recommended. Today's polio vaccine is given by injection into the arm or leg.
The polio vaccine is recommended for all children. The vaccine can be given to babies as young as 6 weeks. This is only done if the baby is at an increased risk of infection. The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at ages 2, 4, 6-18 months, and at 4 years. If the child receives the fourth dose before age 4 years, then he will need a fifth dose between 4-6 years.
Certain higher risk adults who did not receive the polio vaccine as children should talk with their doctors about whether they should get it. These include:
- People traveling to areas of the world where polio is common
- Laboratory workers who handle the polio virus
- Healthcare workers who treat patients who may have polio
Most people have no problems with the polio vaccine. However, some experience soreness around the area where the shot was given. Like all vaccines, the polio vaccine carries a very small risk of serious reaction, such as a severe allergic reaction.
(eg, Tylenol) is sometimes given to reduce pain and fever that may occur after getting a vaccine. The medicine may weaken the vaccine's effectiveness in infants. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking acetaminophen with your doctor.
You should not get the polio vaccine if you:
Are allergic to the medicines
, or polymyxin B
- Have had an allergic reaction to a previous polio vaccine
- Are very ill (wait until you recover before getting the vaccine)
Avoiding unsanitary conditions and practicing good personal hygiene (eg, washing your hands regularly) can prevent polio.
In the event of an outbreak, all people who have not received the polio vaccine should receive it. The US maintains an emergency stockpile of the oral polio vaccine.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
American Academy of Family Physicians
Vaccine and Immunizations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Model insert: oral polio vaccine for children. World Health Organization website. Available at:
. Updated September 2002. Accessed November 30, 2012.
Polio disease in short. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
. Updated February 28, 2011. Accessed November 30, 2012.
Polio vaccine. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
. Updated December 2010. Accessed November 30, 2012.
Polio vaccine: What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
. Updated November 8, 2011. Accessed November 30, 2012.
10/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Prymula R, Siegrist C, Chlibek R, et al. Effect of prophylactic paracetamol administration at time of vaccination on febrile reactions and antibody responses in children: two open-label, randomised controlled trials.
11/9/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) regarding routine poliovirus vaccination.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
1/19/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0 Through 18 years—United States, 2010.
Last Reviewed November 2012