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Polio vaccine, inactivated

Generic name: polio vaccine, inactivated (IPV) [ POE-lee-oh ]
Brand name: Ipol
Dosage form: injectable suspension (-)
Drug class: Viral vaccines

Medically reviewed by on Jan 10, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is polio vaccine?

The polio vaccine is used to help prevent this disease in children and adults.

This vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the virus, 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 6 weeks old.

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


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

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive this vaccine if:

  • you have moderate or severe illness with a fever;

  • you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing live or inactivated polio virus; or

  • you are allergic to 2-phenoxyethanol, formaldehyde, neomycin, streptomycin, or polymyxin B.

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

To make sure polio vaccine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a weak immune system caused by disease, bone marrow transplant, or by using certain medicines or receiving cancer treatments; or

  • a history of Guillain Barré syndrome (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine).

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. 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.

Your doctor should determine whether you need this vaccine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

How is polio vaccine administered?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) under the skin or 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.

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 other shots are then given at 4 months, 6 to 18 months, and then at 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.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you 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. You may not be fully protected against disease if you do not receive the full series.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after getting polio vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Polio vaccine side effects

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 poliovirus 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.

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.

Polio vaccine, inactivated may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • extreme drowsiness, fainting;

  • a seizure; or

  • high fever (within a few hours or a few days after the vaccine).

Common side effects of polio vaccine, inactivated may include:

  • redness, pain, swelling, or a lump where the shot was given; or

  • fever.

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.

Polio vaccine, inactivated dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Poliomyelitis Prophylaxis:

Primary vaccination series:
Two 0.5 mL doses, intramuscularly or subcutaneously, at a 1 to 2 month interval, and a third dose 6 to 12 months later
-If less than 3 months but more than 2 months are available before protection is needed, give 3 doses at least 1 month apart
-If only 1 or 2 months are available, give two doses at least one month apart
-If less than a month is available, give a single dose

Incompletely vaccinated adults (at increased risk of exposure, with at least one dose of oral polio vaccine or fewer than 3 doses of inactivated polio vaccine)
One 0.5 mL dose, intramuscularly or subcutaneously
-Give additional doses, at least one month apart, to complete the primary series if time permits

Completely vaccinated adults (at increased risk of exposure)
One 0.5 mL dose, intramuscularly or subcutaneously

-Routine immunization of adults is not recommended.
-Unimmunized or inadequately immunized adults with increased risk of exposure to wild poliovirus should be immunized.
-Increased risk of exposure includes: travelers to regions/countries where poliomyelitis is endemic, healthcare workers caring for patients who may be excreting polioviruses, laboratory workers handling polioviruses, and members of groups with disease caused by wild polioviruses.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Poliomyelitis Prophylaxis:

6 weeks and older:

Primary vaccination series:
Four 0.5 mL doses, intramuscularly or subcutaneously, at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years

Previously vaccinated children (incomplete polio vaccination):
Give sufficient additional doses to complete the primary series
-There is no need to start the series over again, regardless of time elapsed between doses

-Do not give more frequently than 4 weeks apart.
-Longer time intervals between doses than those recommended above do not require additional doses, as long as a total of four doses is reached.

What other drugs will affect polio vaccine?

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

Other drugs may affect polio vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use.

Further information

  • Your vaccination provider, pharmacist, or doctor can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available 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.

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