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Polio is a serious viral disease. It used to kill or paralyze thousands of people each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 1916 epidemic claimed 6,000 lives and paralyzed 27,000 people.
Widespread vaccination changed that. Today, the United States is free from polio. There have been no reported cases for several decades. However, vaccination is still important. Polio still exists in other parts of the world. Without vaccination, infections could easily return.
The only recommended polio vaccine is the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).
All children should be vaccinated against polio. IPV is given in four doses, as follows:
Some children may get a fifth dose as part of a combined vaccine.
Most adults don’t need polio vaccinations since they were probably vaccinated as children. However, certain people are at higher risk of infection, including:
These adults should be vaccinated. The amount of vaccine an adult will need varies. People who were fully vaccinated as children only need a booster. People who only got one or two shots should get any remaining doses. People who weren’t vaccinated should get all three shots.
Adults who need vaccination should ask their doctors for more information.
Certain people should not get the IPV vaccine, including:
Severe side effects from IPV are extremely rare. However, some people experience soreness at the injection site.
Written by: Amy Boulanger
Medically reviewed on: Nov 18, 2014: Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP
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