Skip to main content

Oral Polio Vaccine

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What is the oral polio vaccine?

The oral polio vaccine (OPV) is given to help prevent polio. Polio is a disease caused by a virus. The virus damages your brain and spinal cord. This can lead to paralysis or death. The virus is spread through direct contact, or you can inhale it. The OPV is given as drops in the mouth. The OPV has been replaced by the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in the United States.

Who should get the OPV?

The OPV is no longer used in the United States except in certain cases. OPV doses may be given 4 to 8 weeks apart to the following:

  • Children who have not received any polio vaccine and who are traveling to areas with a high risk of polio
  • Large group vaccination programs to control current polio sickness or outbreak in an area
  • People with a life-threatening allergy to IPV

Who should not get the OPV?

Do not take the OPV if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past. Do not take the OPV if you have a weak immune system. This can be caused by long-term steroid medicine use, HIV or AIDS, or cancer. Do not take the OPV if someone in your house has a weak immune system. Wait to get the OPV if you are sick or have a fever.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your mouth and throat are swollen.
  • You are wheezing or have trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain or your heart is beating faster than normal for you.
  • You feel like you are going to faint.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your face is red or swollen.
  • You have hives that spread over your body.
  • You feel weak or dizzy.
  • You have severe muscle aches and spasms.
  • You cannot move your arm or leg.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your muscles are weak.
  • You have questions or concerns about the OPV.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Learn more about Oral Polio Vaccine

Treatment options

Care guides guides (external)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.