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Polio: For Travelers

Polio and Travel

Family carting luggage

Visit CDC’s Travelers’ Health Notices site to see what special steps you need to take to protect yourself or a loved one from polio while traveling.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, has been eliminated from most of the world. But it is still a threat in some countries. People who plan to travel internationally should make sure they are fully vaccinated against polio before departure. Even if a person was previously vaccinated, he or she may need a one-time booster shot before traveling to a country where the risk of getting polio is greater. Travelers visiting one of these countries may be required by the government of the country to show proof of polio vaccination on their yellow International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (IVCP) when departing that country. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have questions about this requirement.

Vaccination for International Travelers

Infants and Children

CDC recommends that all infants and children in the United States be vaccinated against polio as part of a routine age-appropriate series, with four doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and 4-6 years respectively. Infants and children traveling to areas where the risk of getting polio is greater should complete the routine series before departure.

If a child cannot complete the routine series before departure, an accelerated schedule is recommended as follows:

  • 1 dose at age 6 weeks or older
  • a second dose 4 or more weeks after the first dose
  • a third dose 4 or more weeks after the second dose
  • a fourth dose 6 or more months after the third dose

If the accelerated schedule cannot be completed before leaving, the remaining doses should be given in the affected country, or upon return home, at the intervals recommended in the accelerated schedule. In addition, children completing the accelerated schedule should still receive a dose of IPV at 4 years old or older, as long as it has been at least 6 months after the last dose.

Adults

Adults who are traveling to areas with increased risk of polio and who are unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or whose vaccination status is unknown should receive a series of 3 doses:

  • 2 doses separated by 1 to 2 months, and
  • a third dose 6 to 12 months after the second dose.

Adults who completed the polio vaccine series as children and are traveling to areas with increased risk of polio should receive a one-time booster dose of vaccine (IPV).

For more information on polio vaccine recommendations for travel, talk your healthcare professional or visit Travelers’ Health: Poliomyelitis.

 

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