Prior to the invention of the Polio vaccine, IPV, thousands of people died from the polio virus each year and tens of thousands more were left paralyzed. Today, the number of people diagnosed with polio each year hovers near zero in the United States, though the virus is still active in other parts of the world. The eradication of polio is attributed to IPV.

Why vaccinate?

When the polio virus enters the body it typically causes no harm or side effects, but in some people it can cause debilitating paralysis and death. Death is often caused by paralysis of the muscles used to breathe. When children receive the complete IPV course, they are essentially protected from contracting polio for life.

Vaccination Schedule

Children receive four doses of IPV. The schedule can be altered if a child misses a dose or is too sick to receive a dose during the scheduled vaccination visit. The commonly accepted IPV schedule suggests doses at:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • Between 6 and 18 months
  • Between 4 and 6 years

The final dose of IPV is generally given at the doctor’s visit prior to starting kindergarten when other school related vaccinations are also scheduled. IPV can be administered at the same time as other vaccinations.

Some doctors used combinations vaccinations that may include IPV. In these cases, children may receive five IPV doses instead of the typical four. Older children and adults are not typically vaccinated against IPV, but traveling to areas where the polio virus is still active may require a polio booster. Health care professionals and lab technicians coming in contact with the polio virus may need additional IPV boosters.

Risks of the Vaccination

There are no risks associated with IPV. Some patients have experienced severe allergic reaction, but the risk of allergic reaction is small. Pain at the injection site may occur.

Signs Your Child Should Wait to Get Vaccinated

Children experiencing fever or moderate to severe illness will need to reschedule the IPV shot. History of severe allergic reaction to IPV, neomycin, polymyxin B or streptomycin should not be vaccinated.

Can Older Children/Adults be Vaccinated?

Older children and adults can be vaccinated if they are placed in a high threat situation or they have never been vaccinated. Adult vaccination schedules require three IPV doses. The first and second dose should be one to two months apart with the final dose given between six and 12 months after the second dose.

What Should I Do If My Child Has a Reaction?

Mild reactions like injection site pain are common and do not require medical attention. Severe reactions including allergic reactions should be treated with emergency medical attention. Severe allergic reactions can be deadly. Symptoms often include trouble breathing, feeling of tightness in the chest, hives, swelling and dizziness.