• Polio is a disease caused by a virus. People have feared polio for hundreds of years because it can paralyze arm, leg, and breathing muscles.
  • Polio virus is spread when invisible particles of feces (poop) get into your mouth. You can get polio by swallowing contaminated food or water or by putting contaminated objects in your mouth.
  • Polio often causes no visible symptoms, but it can be very serious. Sometimes the infected person’s legs or arms become permanently paralyzed from the virus. Polio can also paralyze the breathing muscles and cause death.
  • Polio has been eliminated from the United States and all parts of the Western Hemisphere, thanks to vaccination. But the virus is still present in some parts of the world, so your child would be at risk of infection if they traveled to certain countries without being vaccinated. The virus could also be brought into the U.S. by a traveler.
  • Vaccination is the best way to prevent paralytic polio disease.

Polio Vaccine Schedule

Polio Vaccine Schedule

You can protect your child from polio with vaccination. All children should get 3 doses of polio vaccine as babies (starting at 2 months of age) and a booster dose at 4-6 years old. If your child misses a dose or gets behind schedule, make sure they get the next dose as soon as possible. Adults in the United States age 18 years and older who are known or strongly suspected of being unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated should also complete a 3-dose series. A single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine may be given to some vaccinated adults who travel to areas where polio disease still exists.


Polio: Questions and Answers

Information about the disease and vaccines, from Immunize.org.

Clear Answers and Smart Advice About Your Baby’s Shots

An excerpt from Baby 411 by Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, provides clearly written information about safe and effective vaccines.

Partner Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Polio (Poliomyelitis)

Find fact sheets for parents and children, resources, multimedia, and more from CDC, including Polio Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know—from CDC.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Vaccines for Your Children: Vaccine (Shot) for Polio

Four doses of the polio shot for children are recommended by doctors as the best way to protect against polio. Learn more about meningococcal and vaccines from CDC. A Spanish-language version is also available.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Immunization: Polio

Find easy-to-understand vaccine information for yourself or your loved ones, from the Department of Health & Human Services.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
A Look at Each Vaccine: Polio Vaccine

Questions and answers about polio and vaccines from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Post-Polio Health logo.
Post-Polio Health International

Post-Polio Health International helps enhance the lives and independence of polio survivors and home ventilator users through education and research.


Sharon Karber

Sharon Karber, a nurse working in public health, recalls the paralysis she suffered from polio when she was 3 years old in 1953. She describes her experience with this crippling vaccine-preventable disease and her subsequent struggles with and success at rehabilitation.

Read more.

Laura Lake

Polio victim entreats parents to say yes to vaccines.

Read more.
View All Testimonies

Warning: Some of the images are graphic.

View All Polio Photos

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