Polio Home > Polio Vaccination

There are two types of vaccinations for polio, which are used to prevent the disease. One type is an inactivated vaccination, which contains no live poliovirus. It is given as a shot in the arm or leg, depending on the person's age. The other type is the oral vaccination, which contains live but weakened poliovirus.

Polio Vaccination: An Overview

A polio vaccination is a medicine that is given for polio prevention. There are two general types. One type is an inactivated vaccine (the IPV), which contains no live poliovirus. The other is a live oral vaccination, which contains live but weakened poliovirus.
(Click Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Poliomyelitis for more information about the oral vaccine and its risks.)

History of Polio and the Vaccination

A 1916 polio epidemic in the United States killed 6,000 people and paralyzed 27,000 more. In the early 1950s, there were more than 20,000 cases of polio each year. Vaccination began in 1955. By 1960, the number of cases had dropped to about 3,000. The last cases of paralytic poliomyelitis caused by endemic polio transmission of wild virus in the United States were in 1979, when an outbreak occurred among the Amish in several Midwestern states. The success of the polio vaccination in the United States and other countries sparked a worldwide effort to eliminate the disease.
The inactivated polio vaccination was licensed in 1955 and was used extensively from that time until the early 1960s. In 1961, the oral vaccine was licensed. This was the vaccination of choice in the United States and most other countries of the world after its introduction. However, oral vaccination can cause a rare but serious reaction called vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis. When an enhanced-potency inactivated polio vaccine became available in 1998, it was recommended that the oral polio vaccination not be used. In 2000, the use of oral vaccination in the Unites States was discontinued.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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