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Polio vaccine (IPV)

Learn about the polio vaccine (IPV), effectiveness, side effects, and safety.

Disease it protects from


The polio vaccine you get by an injection (needle) is called IPV.

Who should get this vaccine

You can get this vaccine if you have not had all your polio vaccine doses. Polio vaccine may be given combined with other vaccines: DTaP-IPV-Hib-HB, DTaP-IPV-Hib, or dTap-IPV. The vaccine you get depends on your age and other vaccines you may need. You can get IPV if you have had all your doses of the other vaccines and only need polio vaccine.

Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is given by mouth. It used to be given in Canada and is still used in other countries. If you got OPV after April 1, 2016, you may not be fully protected against all types of polio, and you need IPV to be fully protected.

Some people are at higher risk of contact with polio, such as:

  • You are part of a community or group where polio is spreading.
  • You have close contact with people from areas where there is high risk of polio (for example, you work with refugees from a country where polio is spreading).
  • You have close contact with babies from other countries who may have been immunized with oral polio vaccine in the last 6 weeks.
  • You work at a wastewater treatment plant and are exposed to sewage.
  • You are a healthcare worker or health care student and may have contact with someone who can spread polio.
  • You work in a lab and may handle the polio virus.

You may also need polio vaccine if you are travelling to a country with a high risk of polio. If you need polio vaccine for travel, it is not free for adults. For children who are travelling, contact your local public health or community health centre for more information.

Who should not get this vaccine

You may not be able to get this vaccine if:

  • You have an allergy to any part of the vaccine.
  • You had a severe (serious) or unusual side effect after this vaccine or one like it.

If you have allergies or have had a side effect from this vaccine, check with your doctor or a public health nurse before you get the vaccine.

Although you can get the vaccine if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or fever, you should stay home until you are feeling better to prevent spreading your illness to others.


You get at least 3 doses of a polio vaccine the first time you are immunized for polio. This is called the primary series. You usually get this series as a baby in vaccines that protect against other diseases.

After the primary series, children need an extra (booster) dose at age 4 years.

Adults who are at high risk for polio may need a booster dose. You must wait at least 10 years after getting your primary series for polio before getting this booster.

Other vaccines that protect against the same disease

The vaccines dTap-IPV, DTaP-IPV-Hib, and DTaP-IPV-Hib-HB all protect against polio.

  • dTap-IPV protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and polio. As part of the routine immunization schedule, children get this vaccine as an extra (booster) dose if they are age 4 years and have already had their first 4 doses of a diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio vaccine.
  • DTaP-IPV-Hib protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). As part of the routine immunization schedule, this vaccine is given to children born before March 1, 2018, who are under age 7 years, as part of their primary series and to all children age 18 months as a booster dose.
  • DTaP-IPV-Hib-HB protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B. As part of the routine immunization schedule, babies get this vaccine starting at age 2 months.

The type of polio vaccine you get depends on your age and if you need protection from other diseases.

Get the vaccine

If you can get this vaccine for free, contact your local public health or community health centre.

If you want the vaccine and need to pay for it, contact a travel health clinic or talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Current as of: February 1, 2024
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
Our work takes place on historical and contemporary Indigenous lands, including the territories of Treaty 6, Treaty 7 & Treaty 8 and the homeland of the Métis Nation of Alberta and 8 Métis Settlements. We also acknowledge the many Indigenous communities that have been forged in urban centres across Alberta.