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polio vaccine (IPV)

Pronunciation: POE lee oh

Brand: Ipol

What is the most important information I should know about polio vaccine?

The polio vaccine is given in a series of shots. The number of shots required and the booster schedule will depend on the age of the person being vaccinated. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

Be sure you receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. If you do not receive the full series of vaccines, you may not be fully protected against the disease.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

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You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with polio vaccine is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against it. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

What is polio vaccine?

Polio affects the central nervous system and spinal cord. It can cause muscle weakness and paralysis. Polio is a life-threatening condition because it can paralyze the muscles that help you breathe.

The polio vaccine is used to help prevent these diseases in children.

This vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the bacteria or a protein from the bacteria, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

Polio vaccine is for use in adults and children who are at least 2 months old.

Like any vaccine, the polio vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving polio vaccine?

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You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing live or inactivated polio virus. Do not receive this vaccine if you have received cancer chemotherapy or radiation treatment in the past 3 months.

Before receiving a polio vaccine, tell the doctor if you have:

  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia or easy bruising;
  • a history of seizures;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine);
  • an allergy to latex rubber;
  • a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments;
  • if you are taking a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin); or
  • if you are pregnant;

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a cold or fever. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

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Vaccines may be harmful to an unborn baby and generally should not be given to a pregnant woman. However, not vaccinating the mother could be more harmful to the baby if the mother becomes infected with a disease that this vaccine could prevent. Your doctor will decide whether you should receive this vaccine, especially if you have a high risk of infection with polio.

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Do not receive this vaccine without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is polio vaccine administered?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or other clinic setting.

Polio vaccine is recommended for all children. It is also recommended for adults in the following situations:

  • people who have never been vaccinated against polio;
  • people who travel to areas where polio is common;
  • people who handle polio virus in a laboratory or other setting; or
  • people who treat patients who have polio.

The polio vaccine is given in a series of shots. Children should receive a total of 4 shots. The first shot is usually given when the child is 2 months old. The booster shots are then given at 4 months, 6 to 18 months, and then 4 to 6 years of age.

Adults who have never been vaccinated against polio should receive a total of 3 shots. Booster shots should be given 1 to 2 months after the first shot, and then 6 to 12 months after the second shot.

Adults who may have received prior polio vaccine(s) should receive 1 or 2 shots, no matter how long it has been since the first vaccination(s).

Your individual booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by the health department of the state you live in.

Your doctor may recommend treating fever and pain with an aspirin-free pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and others) when the shot is given and for the next 24 hours. Follow the label directions or your doctor's instructions about how much of this medicine to take.

It is especially important to prevent fever from occurring if you have a seizure disorder such as epilepsy.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you will miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure you receive all recommended doses of this vaccine. If you do not receive the full series of vaccines, you may not be fully protected against the disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after getting polio vaccine?

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity before or after receiving this vaccine unless your doctor has told you otherwise.

What are the possible side effects of polio vaccine?

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You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

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Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with polio vaccine is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against it. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

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Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • extreme drowsiness, fainting;
  • seizure (black-out or convulsions); or
  • high fever (within a few hours or a few days after the vaccine).

Less serious side effects include:

  • redness, pain, swelling, or a lump where the shot was given;
  • low fever;
  • joint pain, body aches;
  • drowsiness; or
  • vomiting.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect polio vaccine?

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Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders, such as azathioprine (Imuran), efalizumab (Raptiva), etanercept (Enbrel), leflunomide (Arava), and others; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection, such as basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral, Gengraf), muromonab-CD3 (Orthoclone), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept), sirolimus (Rapamune), or tacrolimus (Prograf).

If you are using any of these medications, you may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.

There may be other drugs that can affect this vaccine. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you have received. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist may have information about this vaccine written for health professionals that you may read. You may also find additional information from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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