Polio Immunization Information

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Rite Aid measures itself by how well we help our customer achieve his/her individual wellness. Part of this high standard is helping people prevent diseases like polio. Polio (poliomyelitis) is a very infectious disease that attacks the nervous system. It is caused by a virus and transmitted from person-to-person, invading the brain & spinal cord and causing paralysis. Polio is crippling, and potentially deadly. Polio has no cure, so inoculation with the polio vaccine is the best step in protecting oneself and the only way to keep the disease from spreading. The transmission of polio has never abated in countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. After the transmission of the virus had earlier been halted, the polio virus has returned and continues to spread in Syria, Cameroon and the Horn of Africa.

How does Polio spread?

Polio only affects humans and is spread via person-to-person contact.

What are the symptoms of Polio?

About 72% of people infected with polio will exhibit no symptoms of the disease. Roughly 24% of those infected will have minor symptoms like: fatigue, fever, headache, nausea, flu-like symptoms, stiffness in the back and neck, and pain in the limbs. These symptoms often resolve completely. Less than 1% of polio cases result in permanent limb paralysis (typically the legs). Approximately 5-10% of those paralyzed die when the paralysis attacks the respiratory muscles. As the age of those afflicted with polio increases, so does the likelihood of death as a result of the disease.

What is the Polio vaccine?

Two forms of vaccine exist that can prevent polio: Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). Since 2000, only IPV has been used in the U.S.; however in the rest of the world, OPV is still used.

IPV is a shot given in the arm or leg (depending on age). The polio vaccine may be administered at the same time as other vaccines.

Who should get the Polio vaccine?

Children should be inoculated with four doses of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) at the following ages:

  • One dose at 2 months
  • One dose at 4 months
  • One dose at 6-18 months
  • A booster shot at 4-6 years

Most adults have no need for the polio vaccine, since they were most likely vaccinated as children. However, adults who fall into the following three categories are at increased risk and should consider vaccination against polio:

  • Those traveling to areas of the world with high incidence for polio. Ask your doctor for specific information on whether you should be vaccinated.
  • Those working in laboratories and handling specimens that may contain polioviruses.
  • Healthcare workers treating patients who could have polio, or have close contact with people possibly infected with poliovirus.

Adults in any of these three categories, who have never been vaccinated against polio, should get three doses of IPV:

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

Adults in these three categorized who have received one or two doses of polio vaccine in the past should get the remaining one or two doses. How long ago the earlier dose(s) was received does not matter.

Adults who are at heightened risk of poliovirus exposure and who have completed a routine series of polio vaccine (IPV or OPV) can receive one lifetime booster dose of IPV anytime afterwards.