Polio is a serious illness caused by a virus. It spreads easily through person to person contact.
Most people who get the infection have no symptoms at all. It can lead to serious problems in some people, such as meningitis or paralysis. It can be deadly.
The polio vaccine is made of an inactive form of the polio virus. Inactive forms cannot cause an infection. Instead, they stimulate the body to make antibodies to fight future infections.
The polio vaccine is advised for all children. The vaccine is usually given in 4 doses at ages:
Most adults do not need the vaccine because they received it when they were children. Some adults are at higher risk and should consider getting the vaccine, such as:
Common side effects are soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site.
Less common, but more serious side effects are serious allergic reaction or death.
Acetaminophen is sometimes given for pain and fever after a vaccination. In infants, this may weaken the vaccine's effectiveness. It should only be given if advised by a child's care team.
You should not get the polio vaccine if you:
People who are moderately or severely ill should wait to get the vaccine.
The vaccine can be given to a pregnant person if they are at high risk for infection and need protection right away.
The risk of polio can be lowered by practicing good personal hygiene.
In the event of an outbreak, all people who have not received the polio vaccine should receive it.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Vaccines & Immunizations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Poliomyelitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/poliomyelitis. Accessed September 7, 2021.
Polio vaccination: who needs it? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/polio/public/vacc-in-short.html. Accessed September 7, 2021.
Polio vaccine. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/polio-vaccine. Accessed September 7, 2021.
Polio VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/ipv.html. Accessed September 7, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated: 9/7/2021