How to Immunise Yourself Against Polio

By  , Expert Content
Mar 01, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Polio can be prevented with vaccination - IPV and OPV.
  • Oral polio vaccine is the vaccine of choice for polio.
  • Vaccine protects from paralytic polio by checking the spread of poliovirus.
  • Vaccination not needed if given in the childhood.

Polio cannot be cured, but it can be prevented with vaccination. Polio used to be a very common disease globally before the vaccine was developed.

polio preventionPolio has paralyzed and killed thousands of people before there was a vaccine. Since the development of vaccine and development of a polio vaccination program, the number of cases of polio has decreased dramatically. Therefore, vaccination to prevent polio is very important.

Types of Polio Vaccine

The two types of polio vaccine that are available include:

  • Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV): The vaccine contains no live poliovirus.
  • Oral polio vaccine (OPV): It contains live, but weakened poliovirus.

Inactivated polio vaccine: The inactivated polio vaccine was licensed for use in 1955. It has been proven to be effective in producing immunity to poliovirus and protection from paralytic polio. According to studies on vaccination, more than 90 percent of vaccine recipients develop protective antibodies to all three poliovirus types after two doses and at least 99 percent are immune following three doses. After the development of enhanced-potency of inactivated polio vaccine, the use of oral vaccine has been discontinued in Unites States and many other developed countries.


IPV vaccination schedule

Children: The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends four doses in children. The dose schedule is as follows;

  • A dose at 2 months
  • A dose at 4 months
  • A dose at 6 to 18 months
  • A booster polio shot at 4 to 6 years.

Adults: If an adult was vaccinated as child with polio vaccine, further vaccination is usually not needed. Polio vaccination in adults can be considered under following situation:

  • People travelling to areas where polio is endemic such as India, Afganistan
  • People working in laboratory, who might handle poliovirus
  • Healthcare personnel treating or caring patients, who could have polio

Adults in the above mentioned condition as well as those, who have never received the polio vaccine, should get three doses of IPV. The vaccination schedule for adults is as follows:

  • first dose at any time
  • second dose 1 to 2 months later
  • third dose 6 to 12 months after the second dose

If an adult is at high risk of coming in contact with poliovirus and has received the three-dose primary series, only one booster dose of polio vaccine is recommended.

Oral polio vaccine:
The oral polio vaccine was licensed for use in 1961. After the oral polio vaccine was licensed, it became the vaccine of choice for polio. There, however, is a risk of a rare but serious reaction called vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis. After the development of enhanced-potency inactivated polio vaccine and eradication of polio, use of oral vaccine has been discontinued in Unites States and many other developed countries.

Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is given via mouth. It is effective and results in the development of antibodies to all three types of poliovirus after vaccination. It protects from paralytic polio by checking the spread of poliovirus to the nervous system. It is relatively inexpensive and is used for mass immunization programmes. Both vaccines IPV and OPV provide immunity after vaccination, but the oral form is better in limiting spread of disease to other people. OPV vaccine is recommended and used in areas where polio is endemic.



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