Routine Polio Vaccination
CDC recommends that children in the United States receive inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) to protect against polio, or poliomyelitis, as part of their routine immunizations. IPV is given by injection in the leg or arm, depending on the person’s age. It can 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
A single-antigen vaccine called IPOL is licensed in the U.S. for active immunization of infants (as young as 6 weeks of age), children, and adults for the prevention of poliomyelitis caused by poliovirus types 1, 2, and 3. Several combination vaccines licensed in the U.S. also contain IPV, including Pentacel (DTaP-IPV/Hib), Pediarix (DTaP-IPV-HepB), Kinrix (DTaP-IPV), VAXELIS (DTaP-IPV-Hib-HepB), or Quadracel (DTaP-IPV). Children getting these vaccines might get one more (fifth) dose of IPV. It is safe for children to get a fifth dose of IPV. For more information about using these combination vaccines, please refer to You Call the Shots: Vaccines Web-based Training Course | CDC.
Children who have not started their polio vaccination series or who are delayed in getting all recommended doses should start right away or finish their series by following the recommended catch-up schedule.
Accelerated Schedule for Children Traveling Outside the U.S.
Children who will be traveling to a country where the risk of getting polio is greater 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:
- One 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 IPV schedule cannot be completed before leaving, the remaining doses should be given in the visited country, or upon returning home, at the intervals recommended. 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 and Adults Vaccinated Outside the U.S.
CDC recommends that children and adults who may have received poliovirus vaccination outside the U.S. should meet the U.S. recommendation for polio vaccination that includes protection against all three poliovirus types.
If documentation is available and shows that the child or adult received age-appropriate vaccination with either IPV or trivalent OPV (tOPV), then the person is considered fully vaccinated. If the person only received bivalent OPV (bOPV), they are not vaccinated against type 2 poliovirus, and they need to complete an IPV 3- or 4- dose series depending on their age to be fully protected. For more information see Catch-up Vaccination here: Birth-18 Years Immunization Schedule | CDC.
Children and adults with no or questionable documentation of poliovirus vaccination should be revaccinated according to the U.S. schedule with the age-appropriate IPV.
Published Recommendations and Resources
- ACIP recommendations Updated August 2009
- Guidance for Assessment of Poliovirus Vaccination Status and Vaccination of Children Who Have Received Poliovirus Vaccine Outside the United States, MMWR January 13, 2017
- ACIP – Vaccines for Children (VFC) Resolutions
- Travelers Health: Yellow Book
- Interim CDC Guidance for Polio Vaccination for Travel to and from Countries Affected by Wild Poliovirus, MMWR, July 7, 2014
- CDC/Medscape Expert Commentary Video: CDC Interim Guidance: Polio Vaccine Requirements for Travelers Abroad