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Polio immunization (vaccine)

 

Definition

Polio immunization protects against poliomyelitis, a severe disease that leads to the loss of movement.

The vaccine contains an inactive (dead) form of the polio virus. It is called an inactivated polio vaccine, or IPV. It cannot cause polio.

The IPV is available alone, or combined with:

  • DTaP-HepB
  • DTap Hib
  • DTaP only
Alternative Names

Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV); Salk vaccine; IPV

Information

Polio vaccination is one of the recommended childhood immunizations and vaccination should begin during infancy. In most parts of the United States, polio immunization is required before a child can start school.

WHO SHOULD RECEIVE THIS VACCINE:

Children should receive four doses of the IPV; one dose each at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months (no earlier than 6 weeks)
  • 4 months
  • 6 - 18 months
  • 4 - 6 years

Children who have received three doses of the IPV before age 4 should receive a fourth dose before or at the time they first start school. The fourth dose is not needed if the third dose is given after age 4.

The first and second doses of the IPV are necessary to help the immune system protect against polio. The third and fourth doses provide further protection.

Adults are not given a booster polio shot unless they are likely to be in places where the disease is known to occur.

The following people should not receive IPV:

  • People who have had severe allergic reactions after receiving this vaccine
  • People who have had severe allergic reactions to the antibiotics streptomycin, polymyxin B, or neomycin

No side effects have been reported in pregnant women who have received the vaccine. However, the vaccine should be avoided during pregnancy, if possible. Pregnant woman who are at increased risk for infection and who need immediate protection should receive an IPV according to the recommended schedule for adults.

IPV can be given safely to the following people:

  • Women who are breastfeeding
  • Children with diarrhea
  • Anyone who:
    • Has minor upper respiratory illness, with or without fever
    • Has had mild to moderate local reactions to a previous dose of vaccine
    • Is taking antimicrobial therapy
    • Is getting better after having an acute illness

People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they have recovered before receiving the vaccine.

BENEFITS

The development of the polio vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1955 has helped significantly reduce the rates of polio. However, the disease remains common in some developing countries, so there is a risk that it can spread to the United States.

For almost everyone, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

SIDE EFFECTS

IPV may cause mild soreness and redness at the site of the injection. This is usually not severe and lasts only a few days. There are usually no other symptoms and no other care is needed after immunization.

CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:

  • You are uncertain whether polio immunization should be given, particularly if there are conditions where immunization may need to be delayed or not given
  • An allergic reaction or other symptoms develop after polio immunization
  • You have other questions or concerns about polio immunization
References

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents--United States, 2008. Pediatrics. 2008;121(1):219-220.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended adult immunization schedule---United States, 2009. MMWR. January 9, 2009;57(53);Q1-Q4.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0 through 18 years---United States, 2009. MMWR. January 2, 2009;57(51&52);Q1-Q4.


Review Date: 11/2/2009
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine.
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