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Your Child's Vaccines: Polio Vaccine (IPV)

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD

What Is Polio?

Polio is an infection caused by a virus that can lead to permanent paralysis.

IPV Immunization Schedule

Children usually get the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6–18 months, and 4–6 years.

Sometimes IPV is given in a combination vaccine along with other vaccines. In this case, a child might receive a fifth dose of IPV. This is safe.

The oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) is a weakened live vaccine that is still used in many parts of the world, but hasn't been used in the United States since 2000. Using IPV eliminates the small risk of developing polio after receiving the live oral polio vaccine.

OPV doses given before April 2016 can count toward a child's U.S. polio vaccination requirements. Doses given after that will not count.

Why Is the IPV Vaccine Recommended?

The vaccine offers protection against polio, which can cause paralysis and death.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of IPV Immunization?

Side effects include fever and redness or soreness at the injection site. There is a very small chance of an allergic reaction with any vaccine.

The IPV vaccine contains a killed (inactivated) virus, so it cannot cause polio.

When to Delay or Avoid IPV Immunization

The vaccine is not recommended if your child:

  • has a severe allergy to the antibiotics neomycin, streptomycin, or polymyxin B
  • had a serious allergic reaction to an earlier IPV shot

Caring for Your Child After IPV Immunization

IPV may cause mild fever, and soreness and redness where the shot was given for several days. Check with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain or fever and to find out the right dose.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call the doctor if:

  • You aren't sure whether the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
  • Your child has any problems after getting the vaccine.
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Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2022