Polio Vaccination

What is the polio vaccine?

The polio vaccine is a group of vaccines used to prevent poliomyelitis, also known as polio, a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus. Polio can cause paralysis and even death, particularly in children.

Polio vaccines are highly effective and have led to a dramatic decrease in polio cases worldwide. In fact, the disease is on the verge of global eradication due to worldwide vaccination efforts.

How the polio vaccine works

The polio vaccine protects against 3 types of the polio virus, Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3, by stimulating an immune response in the body, which then develops antibodies.

Types of polio vaccines

There are 2 types of polio vaccines, both administered in 3 doses.

  • The inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). This is the polio vaccine used in Singapore and is an injected vaccine that is generally well-tolerated and can be administered in combination with other common vaccines.
  • The oral polio vaccine (OPV). This contains the live attenuated poliovirus and is not used in Singapore because the OPV has a rare side effect of causing polio in a very small number of people (about 1 in 2.4 million doses).

Differences between polio vaccines

The IPV uses inactivated poliovirus, making it non-infectious and incapable of causing disease, while the OPV uses weakened but live poliovirus that replicates in the gut, thereby inducing an immune response.

This can sometimes lead to a very small risk of causing vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in immuno-weakened individuals or their close contacts.

Overall, the IPV offers longer-lasting protection compared to the OPV.

Why do you need the polio vaccine?

Polio is a highly infectious disease for which there is no cure, and the polio vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection and create herd immunity.

When do you need the polio vaccine?

The polio vaccine is part of Singapore’s National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS). It is given in 3 doses at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, with 2 additional boosters given at 18 months and 10 – 11 years of age.

For adults, a booster may be recommended for those travelling to areas where polio is common or who may be exposed to the virus from working in laboratories or with infected patients.

Who should not receive the polio vaccine?

Individuals who should not receive the polio vaccine include those who are:

  • Allergic to any component of the vaccine or previously experienced a severe allergic reaction after receiving a dose of the polio vaccine
  • Allergic to certain types of antibiotics
  • Feeling moderately or severely unwell
  • Pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • Receiving treatment for any medical conditions or having a history of bleeding disorders

How do you prepare for the polio vaccine?

There is no specific preparation required. However, your doctor should be informed if your child receiving the vaccine falls under the category of those who should not receive the polio vaccine.

What can you expect when getting the polio vaccine?

The inactivated polio vaccine is given by injection into the muscle of the arm or leg.

What are the common side effects of the polio vaccine?

It is common to experience pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some people may feel faint afterward, which usually passes after a short time.

What are the serious side effects that require medical attention?

In rare situations, an allergic reaction may occur. Anyone who experiences one or more of the following symptoms should visit a doctor:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Swelling of the face or throat
  • Weakness

If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Find a Parkway Shenton clinic near you and call us to confirm if your preferred vaccine is available.

Find a clinic near me

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