Routine Polio Vaccination

Infants and Children

CDC recommends that children in the United States receive inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) to protect against polio, or poliomyelitis. IPV is given by injection in the leg or arm, depending the person’s age. It may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Children get four doses of IPV, with one dose at each of these ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 through 18 months
  • 4 through 6 years

Some “combination” vaccines (several different vaccines in the same shot) contain IPV, such as Pentacel (DTaP-IPV/Hib), Pediarix (DTaP-IPV-HepB), or Kinrix (DTaP-IPV). Children getting these vaccines may get one more (fifth) dose of IPV. It is safe for children to get a fifth dose of polio vaccine. For more information about using these combination vaccines, please refer to You Call the Shots: Polio, section on combination vaccines.

Accelerated Schedule for Children Traveling Outside the U.S.

Children who will be traveling to a country where the risk of getting polio is greaterexternal icon should complete the series before leaving for their trip. If a child cannot complete the routine series before leaving, 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 returning 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.

Children Vaccinated Outside the U.S.

CDC recommends that children who may have received poliovirus vaccination outside the U.S. should meet the U.S. recommendation for polio vaccination that includes protection against all 3 poliovirus types.

If documentation is available and shows that the child received age appropriate vaccination with either IPV or trivalent OPV, the child is considered fully vaccinated.

Children with no or questionable documentation of poliovirus vaccination should be revaccinated according the U.S. schedule with the age appropriate IPV.

Published Recommendations and Resources

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Page last reviewed: May 4, 2018