Grocery Coupons

Grocery Coupons

Members can print free savings coupons

Brain Health Center

Brain Health Center

Learn how to live smart and stay sharp

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Members save on e-
readers and tablets

Caring for loved ones?

Caring for loved ones?

Find the resources you need


Diseases & Conditions A - Z
powered by healthline

The Polio Vaccine

What It Is and What It Protects Against

Before the polio vaccine, polio afflicted thousands each year in the United States. The once rampant disease claimed 6,000 lives and paralyzed almost five times as many people during a 1916 epidemic. Vaccination against polio began in 1955; by 1970, only about 10 cases existed. Today, the United States is free from the disease, after more than 20 years of no reported cases.  However, polio does still exist in certain parts of the world, and, according to the CDC, “it would only take one case of polio from another country to bring the disease back if we were not protected by vaccine.” Continuing to vaccinate keeps us on the path to prevention, and, hopefully, to complete eradication of the disease.

General Use

The two vaccines that are used to protect against polio include:

  • IPV (inactivated polio vaccine)
  • OPV (oral polio vaccine)

The once-preferred method, OPV is associated with some risk. The oral vaccine has been reported to actually cause polio in some cases (about one in 2.4 million) making the risk (though slight) not worth the chance. The CDC recommends getting the IPV shot, which was developed to cut the risk linked with the oral vaccine, and has been used in the United States since 2000.  

For children, the 4-shot IPV dosage is as follows:

  • First dose:  2 months old
  • Second dose:  4 months old
  • Third dose:  between 6 to 18 months
  • Fourth dose:  between 4 to 6 years old

While most adults don’t need the vaccine, certain individuals are strongly recommended to get the polio vaccine, including lab workers and health care workers, both of which may be exposed to the polio virus, as well as anyone planning to travel to countries where polio still exists.

For adults, the dosage is as follows:

  • First dose: anytime
  • Second dose: one to two months later
  • Third dose: six months to one year later
  • *Booster: after receiving all three doses, adults may get a booster of IPV and should speak with their doctor.

Who Should Not Get It

Anyone who meets the following criteria should not get the IPV vaccine:

  • anyone who experienced severe allergic reaction to the following antibiotics:
    • neomycin
    • polymyxin 
    • streptomycin
  • anyone who experienced severe allergic reaction to a past polio shot
  • anyone who is currently moderately-to-severely ill is advised to wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated; however having a mild cold does not prohibit someone from getting vaccinated

Potential Side Effects

Though the risk of serious harm from the IPV shot is extremely small compared with the actual untreated disease, the IPV does hold some mild risk.

Mild side effects include:

  • soreness or swelling at the site of the shot (serious side effects have not been reported with this vaccine).

Content licensed from:

Written by: Amy Boulanger
Published on: Aug 18, 2011
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
Symptom Search
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Drug Interaction Checker
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Pill Identifier
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Drugs A-Z
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.



Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Denny's Ranchero Tilapia

Members save 15% all day, every day when dining at participating Denny's restaurants.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can locate discounts via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder mobile app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


African American, Asian Community Page

AARP In Your Corner

Visit Black Community, Español  and Asian Community pages.

AARP Drivers Safety logo

Driver Safety Program

Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp. 

Create the Good

Create The Good 

Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood. 

AARP Drive to End Hunger Logo

Drive to End Hunger

NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP Foundation. 


Green Dot Prepaid Card

Prepaid MasterCard

AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.

Most Popular


Nothing has been viewed