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Facts About...

(Inactivated Polio Vaccine, IPV)

What is it?

Inactivated polio vaccine protects children and adults against polio. It is usually combined in other vaccines but can be given on its own when a person is not fully immunized against polio.

  • Polio (short for poliomyelitis) is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system and can destroy the nerve cells in muscles leading to permanent paralysis of the muscles used for breathing, eating and walking. Canada was certified polio-free in 1994, and no new cases of polio have been reported in Durham Region since this time, largely due to immunization. (For more information, see Facts About... Polio).

How effective is the polio vaccine?

When polio vaccine is given as recommended, it protects 99% of people against polio.

Who should receive the vaccine?

Polio vaccine is given to people who are up to date for their tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations but are in need of vaccination against polio. This vaccine is not given to adults routinely. Only adults who are likely to come in contact with the polio virus may need to receive a booster dose of polio vaccine.

This includes:

  • people travelling to, or people getting travelers from├é┬áplaces where polio virus is known or thought to be found
  • laboratory workers who handle samples that may contain polio virus
  • health care workers who look after patients who may have polio virus

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers can receive polio vaccine without safety concerns, but the positive and negative risks of vaccination should be discussed with a doctor.

Persons with immune system problems should also discuss the benefits and potential risks of polio vaccine with a doctor before vaccination.

What is the schedule for the vaccine?

Children under 7 years of age need at least 4 doses of polio vaccine, usually given at 2, 4 and 18 months, and 4-6 years. Polio vaccine is usually combined with other childhood vaccines (e.g., diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine). If given alone, polio vaccine may be given at the same time as other routine vaccine(s) but at a different site with a different syringe.

For children aged 7 and older and adults who have not been vaccinated against polio before, 3 doses of polio vaccine is required. The first 2 doses should be given 1-2 months apart and the third dose 6-12 months later. Polio vaccine may also be given as a booster dose for children over 7 years of age and adults who are not fully immunized or for travel or work reasons.

When traveling to a developing country where polio may exist, discuss with your doctor if you should have a polio booster.

Are there side effects with the vaccine?

The most common reported side effects are:

  • Redness, pain and hardness where the needle was given
  • Headache

Side effects usually go away on their own in 1-2 days. A cold, wet compress applied to the injection site and/or acetaminophen can be used to help relieve pain, swelling, and/or mild fever after vaccination.

Severe allergic reactions after vaccination are rare and may not be caused by the vaccine. However, if you think a serious reaction is developing, seek medical attention right away. Any unusual or significant changes in your health or your child’s health after the immunization should be reported to a health care provider and the Health Department.

Who should NOT get the vaccine?

  • Anyone who has had a serious allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of inactivated polio vaccine
  • People who are sick with a high fever or serious infection worse than a cold should wait until they feel better before getting the inactivated polio vaccine
  • Any component in a vaccine may be a potential allergen. The most common for inactivated polio vaccine are:
    • Neomycin
    • Polymyxin B
    • Streptomycin

For more information on contents of vaccine refer to the Canadian Immunization Guide Evergreen edition

Don’t forget to update your record of protection

After you or your child receives a vaccination, update your yellow vaccination record. For children in school or daycare, please call the Health Department to update your child’s immunization records. Keep your records in a safe place!

December 2015