polio vaccine is given to protect people from getting
all three strains of the polio virus. The vaccine is given as a shot
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a virus that
damages nerves that control muscles, resulting in muscle weakness. In a severe
case, a person can lose the ability to move both arms and legs (paralysis) and
to breathe without help.
In the early 1900s, thousands of people
were paralyzed or died from polio. Today polio immunization programs have made
the disease very rare in Canada, the United States, Europe, the Mediterranean,
Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Outbreaks are common in other parts of the
For babies and children
A total of four shots are given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and
between 4 to 6 years of age. The polio vaccine may be combined with other
vaccines so children only have to receive one shot (known as the 4-in-1,
5-in-1, or 6-in-1 shots).
A booster dose of the polio vaccination is not needed for adults (even
those who were not immunized as children) unless they:footnote 1
The series given to children provides
Most people who get the vaccine do not
have any problems. But there may be soreness or tenderness where the shot was
given. There have been no reports of any serious reactions with the vaccine
used today. footnote 2
serious allergic reactions are rare with these
medicines, call your doctor or local health unit right away if you or your
child has trouble breathing, a high fever, or anything unusual after having the
A child who has had a severe allergic reaction to a previous
dose of polio vaccine should not get another dose of this vaccine. Tell your
doctor or nurse if your child has had a severe reaction to any vaccine or has
See Drug Reference for a full list of side
effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Only the inactivated polio vaccine
shot (injection) is used in Canada today. An oral vaccine was once used but is
no longer because it had rare but serious risk of causing polio.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) (2006). Poliomyelitis vaccine. In Canadian Immunization Guide, 7th ed., pp. 277–283. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada. Also available online: http://publications.gc.ca.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2000). Polio vaccine: What you need to know. Vaccine Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - PediatricsBrian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerWilliam Atkinson, MD, MPH - Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
& Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & William Atkinson, MD, MPH - & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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