Poliomyelitis, also known as polio, is an infection of the nervous system that may cause severe muscle weakness, paralysis, and even death. A vaccine is a shot or oral solution given to protect a person against a life-threatening disease. There are two types of polio vaccines:
Oral Polio Vaccine, called OPV, is delivered through drops that are swallowed. OPV contains live polioviruses that are weakened to keep them from causing disease. This vaccine is easy to administer and has been an invaluable tool in the global campaign to eradicate polio.
Inactivated Polio Vaccine, called IPV, is given by a shot. Because OPV can cause a very rare case of polio in and of itself, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommend that inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) now be used exclusively in the United States. This vaccine is as effective as the OPV in protecting the individual against polio.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
Any child who has not been vaccinated against polio is a candidate for immunization.
Most children who get the shots will never be exposed to poliovirus. However, until polio has been eradicated worldwide, children need to be vaccinated because an importation of the virus from another country is always possible.
How is the procedure performed?
Most children should receive four doses of the polio vaccine. It is recommended that children receive IPV at the following times:
- age 2 months
- age 4 months
- between the ages of 6 to 18 months
- age 4 to 6 years
This series of vaccines gives the lifelong protection against the poliovirus.
Polio Vaccines, Centers For Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia
Polio Epidemiology, Polio Information Center Online [PICO]