Polio Vaccine

There are two polio vaccines available for the prevention of polio virus.  One is given orally (OPV) and the other by injection (IPV).  While many countries have eliminated polio through the World Health Organization's global eradication of poliomyelitis program, there are still three countries where the polio virus is active, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recently, there have been occasional outbreaks of polio in Somalia, Kenya and Cameroon.

Some polio-free countries may also require travellers from countries reporting polio cases to be immunised against polio in order to obtain an entry visa.  For example, Saudi Arabia requires proof of polio vaccination administered 6 weeks before application for an entry visa for visitors arriving from countries reporting polio cases. Updates on country requirements are available on the World Health Organization?s Weekly Epidemiological Record website (http://www.who.int/wer/en/).

If you are unsure about your or your child's level of protection against polio, see your health care provider for your personal vaccination records and to determine if any booster shots are required.

What is the dosage schedule?

For children, OPV is best given as three doses.  Three doses of OPV produce protection in more than 95 percent of the recipients.

For IPV, four doses are required:  the first at 2 months of age, the second at 4 months of age, the third at 6 to 18 months of age, and a booster dose at 4 to 6 years of age.

For adults who have never been vaccinated against polio, three doses of IPV are recommended with the first two doses separated by 1 to 2 months and a third dose at 6 to 12 months after the second.  For adults who have had one or two doses of polio vaccine in the past, the remaining one or two doses should be administered.

For adults who have had three or more doses of polio vaccine in the past, a single booster dose of IPV is sufficient.