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How Common Is Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Poliomyelitis?

From 1980 through 1998, 152 cases of paralytic polio were reported in the United States; 144 (95 percent) of these cases were vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis, and the remaining eight were in people who acquired documented or presumed wild-virus polio outside the United States.
Of the vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis cases:
  • 41 percent occurred in healthy vaccine recipients (average age: three months)
  • 31 percent occurred in healthy contacts of vaccine recipients (average age: 26 years)
  • 5 percent were community acquired (i.e., vaccine virus was recovered but there was no known contact with a vaccine recipient)
  • 24 percent of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis cases occurred in people with immune system problems.
The risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis is not equal for all oral polio vaccine doses in the vaccination series. The risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis is 7 to 21 times higher for the first dose than for any other dose in the oral polio vaccine series.
The last case of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis acquired in the United States was reported in 1999.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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