Polio Vaccine

Safety Information

About Polio (Poliomyelitis)

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and potentially life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person-to-person contact and lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, and stomach pain. In some cases, polio can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis, a condition in which a person cannot move parts of the body.

There are three types of poliovirus: type 1, type 2, and type 3. Wild poliovirus type 2 (WPV2) was declared eradicated in September 2015 and wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) was declared eradicated in October 2019. However, wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) and vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPVs) still circulate in some parts of the world. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented with vaccination.

Learn more about polio.

Available Vaccine and Package Insert

Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the United States since 2000. It is given by a shot in the arm or leg, depending on the person’s age. CDC recommends that all children get four doses of IPV as part of their routine childhood vaccination schedule. Two doses of IPV provide at least 90% protection, and three doses provide at least 99% protection against illness. Childhood routine vaccination against polio in the United States is done through combination vaccines that protect against more than one disease or virus in one shot. Adults who know or suspect that they are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated against polio should complete their polio vaccination series with IPV.

Child and Adult Immunization Schedules
Get CDC’s official recommended immunization schedules for children, adolescents, and adults.

Talk with your healthcare provider
about vaccines.

They can answer questions and offer advice based
on your specific health needs.

Vaccine Information Statements

Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) are information sheets produced by CDC that explain both the benefits and risks of a vaccine.

Manufacturer Package Insert

Common Side Effects

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Many people who get the polio vaccine have no side effects at all. The most common side effects are usually mild—such as soreness where the shot was given—and go away on their own.


Severe allergic reactions following vaccination are rare, but can be life threatening.
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness.

If any of these reactions occur, seek immediate medical attention.

Polio Vaccines
Common Side Effects
  • Decreased appetite (Vaxelis, Kinrix, Pediarix)
  • Drowsiness (Vaxelis, Kinrix, Pediarix)
  • Fever
  • Fussiness/irritability
  • Headache (Quadracel)
  • Injection site pain, redness, swelling and slight increase in muscle size
  • Persistent crying
  • Vomiting (Vaxelis)

Who Should Not Get a Polio Vaccine

People should not get a polio vaccine if they:

  • Are younger than 6 weeks of age,
  • Have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or an immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine.
  • Have had encephalopathy (brain disease) within seven days of a previous pertussis-containing vaccine or H. influenza type b vaccine.
  • Have a progressive neurologic disorder until a treatment regimen has been established and the condition has stabilized.

People should talk to a healthcare provider before getting a polio vaccine if they:

  • Had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of polio vaccine, or
  • Have any severe, life-threatening allergies.

In some cases, the healthcare provider may decide to postpone polio vaccination to a future visit.

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated.  A pregnant person can receive a polio vaccine if they are at increased risk for infection and require immediate protection.

More Information

A Closer Look at the Safety Data

Which adverse events are considered “serious?”

By the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 21 outcomes:

  • Death
  • A life-threatening adverse event
  • A persistent or significant disability or incapacity
  • A congenital anomaly or birth defect
  • Hospitalization, or prolongation of existing hospitalization

Learn more about adverse events.

Findings from vaccine safety monitoring systems and scientific studies have shown that polio vaccines have a favorable safety profile – the body of scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports their safety.

  • One study focused on adverse events after IPV administration reported to the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The study showed that there were few adverse events reported for more than 250 million doses given between 2000 and 2012.

How CDC Monitors the Safety of Polio Vaccines

CDC and FDA monitor the safety of vaccines after they are approved. If a problem is found with a vaccine, CDC and FDA will inform health officials, health care providers, and the public.

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