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A polio vaccine is a medicine that is given to prevent polio. There are two general types. One type is the inactivated vaccine, which contains no live poliovirus. The other type is the oral vaccine, which contains live but weakened poliovirus. The vaccine was first licensed in 1955. Where and when it is given depends on whether the person is an adult or a child.

What Is a Polio Vaccine?

As you might expect, the polio vaccine is a medicine that is given to prevent polio (also called poliomyelitis).
(Click Polio Prevention for more information about preventing polio.)

Types of Polio Vaccine

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

History of Polio and the Polio Vaccine

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 polio disease 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 vaccine in the United States and other countries sparked a worldwide effort to eliminate polio.
The inactivated polio vaccine 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 vaccine of choice in the United States and most other countries after its introduction. However, the oral vaccine 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 vaccine no longer be used. In 2000, the use of the oral vaccine in the Unites States was discontinued.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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