What is Polio?

Polio is a disease that impairs neurological function. In severe cases, it may lead to paralysis and even death.

Polio Vaccine

The polio vaccine can prevent polio if administered properly. Four doses are usually administered. The first dose is usually given at birth and the series of vaccinations is completed by age six. Two different types of the polio vaccine exist: the Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).

Although very rare, children that receive the OPV may actually get polio from the vaccine itself. The frequency is only about one in 2.4 million people that will get polio from the OPV. It is recommended that children receive IPV for their first 2 doses and OPV for their last 2 doses, in order to provide the advantages of both types. After 4 doses, most children have immunity to polio. The vaccine may in rare cases cause serious reactions such as allergic reactions (hives, difficulty breathing) or even death.


Travelers should check with a health care provider to see if they are traveling into a polio-endemic area and need a polio vaccine booster prior to their trips. Concerning areas may include East, Central and West Africa, Eastern Europe, Northern Asia and South Asia.