Polio (poliomyelitis)

Contagious virus spread by faeces and saliva; causes fever, headache, vomiting and may progress to paralysis.

Effects of the disease

About one in 20 hospitalised patients dies and one in two patients who survive is permanently paralysed.

How to immunise and when

In the past, oral poliovaccine (OPV) was used routinely in the immunisation schedule. Since 2005, OPV has been replaced by inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (IPV) which is given by injection. Three doses are required at 2, 4 and 6 months of age (but can be given from 6 weeks of age).

IPV is given as part of a combined vaccine with DTPa, hep B and Hib (for babies). IPV is combined with DTPa and due at 4 years of age but can be given from 3 years 6 months.

Side effects of immunisation

About one in three experiences local redness; one in seven has pain; one in 10 has fever, decreased appetite and may cry excessively.

If you have any concerns about side effects of vaccines, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Page last updated: 10 Aug 2017