Polio (“IPV”) Vaccine

What is the Polio (“IPV”) Vaccine?

There are two types of vaccines that protect against polio:  inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV).  In the late 1940s and early 1950s, an average of over 35,000 cases of polio were reported annually. Following licensure of the Salk inactivated polio vaccine in 1955, the incidence of the disease fell dramatically.  The disease was further reduced with the advent of the Sabin oral polio vaccine in 1961.  In 1965 only 61 cases of polio were reported.  The last cases of paralytic polio from natural poliovirus in the U.S. were in 1979.  Today, polio has been eliminated from the U.S. and the entire Western Hemisphere, although it remains a threat in some countries, such as Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Although polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease, the majority of people infected will not exhibit any symptoms.  A smaller subset of people will exhibit flu-like symptoms, and a yet smaller cohort will suffer from the most serious symptoms, such as paresthesia, paralysis, and meningitis.  The poliovirus spreads from person to person through infected feces or mucus secretions.  Even those who do recover from paralytic polio may be affected 30 to 40 years later with muscle pain and progressive weakness.

The inactivated polio vaccine is effective against 3 virulent strains of poliovirus and causes your body to produce antibodies against poliovirus.  In the event of infection, these antibodies prevent the spread of the virus through the bloodstream to the central nervous system and protect against paralysis.  The oral polio vaccine has not been used in the United States since 2000.  However, it is still used in many countries, and is preferred in the case of an outbreak.

Who should receive the IPV vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children receive 4 doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), to be administered at ages:  2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and a booster dose at 4-6 years. Most adults do not need polio vaccine because they were already vaccinated as children.  However, the CDC recommends that any adult planning to travel to high-risk areas of the world, or who are working in a laboratory or healthcare setting where poliovirus exposure may occur, consult with their healthcare provider regarding vaccination.

How is the IPV vaccine administered?

Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is given as either a subcutaneous or intramuscular injection in the leg or arm, depending on the patient’s age.  The IPV vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Polio Links
CDC Polio Vaccination Page