Polio Vaccination Recommendations for Specific Groups

Most adults (i.e., persons aged >18 years) residing in the United States are presumed to be immune to poliovirus from previous routine childhood immunization and have only a small risk of exposure to poliovirus in the United States.

However, adults who are unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or are at higher risk for exposure to poliovirus should receive polio vaccination. Higher risk situations include:

  • Travelers who have recently traveled or are going to areas or countries where polio is epidemic or endemic (For additional information, see Polio: For Travelers).
  • Laboratory and healthcare workers who handle specimens that might contain polioviruses.
  • Healthcare workers who are treating patients who could have polio or have close contact with a person who could be infected with poliovirus.
  • People who are in contact with or caring for a person who could be infected with polio or has been exposed to polio.
  • Unvaccinated adults whose children will be receiving oral poliovirus vaccine (for example, international adoptees or refugees).

Recommendations for poliovirus vaccination for adults will depend on previous records of polio vaccination and the time available before protection is required.

Adults who are unvaccinated or without any documentation of previous polio vaccination should be given three doses of IPV at these recommended intervals:

  • Two doses separated by 1 to 2 months
  • A third dose 6 to 12 months after the second dose

Adults who are incompletely vaccinated or previously received one or two doses of polio vaccine (either IPV or tOPV) should receive the remaining doses of IPV to complete the three-dose series at the recommended interval:

If the adult has received Dose 1, and

  • It has been ≥4 weeks since Dose 1, then give Dose 2 today. Dose 3 (final) should be given at least 6 months after Dose 2.
  • It has been <4 weeks since Dose 1, then wait to give Dose 2 at least 4 weeks after Dose 1.

If the adult has received Dose 2 and

  • It has been ≥6 months since Dose 2, then give Final Dose 3 today. This will complete the person’s primary polio vaccination series.
  • It has been <6 months since Dose 2, then wait to give Final Dose 3 at least 6 months after Dose 2.

Adults who have had three or more doses of polio vaccine in the past and are at higher risk of exposure to poliovirus can get one lifetime booster dose of IPV.

In some circumstances, when there is not enough time to give three doses of IPV according to the above recommended intervals, then an accelerated schedule can be used:

  • If protection is needed in ≥8 weeks, three doses of IPV can be administered at least 4 weeks apart (e.g., at weeks 0, 4, and 8).
  • If protection is needed in ≥4 but <8 weeks, two doses of IPV should be administered at least 4 weeks apart (e.g., at weeks 0 and 4).
  • If protection is needed in fewer than 4 weeks, a single dose of IPV should be administered.

If the accelerated schedule cannot be completed before the potential exposure to higher risk situation, the remaining doses should be given as soon as possible (e.g., in the visited country, or upon returning home) to complete the primary series at the recommended intervals, such that the third dose should be given at least 6–12 months after the second dose if that is possible.

There are no known risks to getting IPV at the same time as other vaccines.

For more information, see the ACIP recommendations for polio vaccination.

Page last reviewed: August 8, 2022