Do you need the polio vaccine booster?

The rise of polio in New York

With polio cases on the rise throughout the state of New York, there has never been a more important time to be educated about the vaccine and vaccine boosters. Vaccines often operate as your first line of defense against dangerous viruses that are oftentimes preventable. The polio vaccine was effective in containing massive outbreaks in 1979, and healthcare officials and professionals are looking to repeat this success by amping up vaccination efforts. 

Polio is a contagious virus that can lead to detrimental nerve damage and other health complications. According to MayoClinic, the polio virus can “in its most severe form cause nerve injury leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.” Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for poliovirus. The best protection that you as an individual have against contracting and/or spreading polio is to be fully vaccinated against the illness. 

Find a facility to get the polio vaccine or vaccine booster in the state of New York.

Who should get the polio vaccine booster?

The polio vaccine is generally recommended for all children during routine childhood immunization rounds. Individuals who are unvaccinated or don’t have the polio vaccine in specific are at a much higher risk of exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that these individuals may be at an amplified risk if they are in any of the following situations: 

  • Traveling abroad 
  • Working in lab settings 
  • Healthcare professionals who may treat polio-infected patients 
  • Unvaccinated adults who are around children that have taken the oral polio vaccine 
  • Individuals living in a community where polio is present 

Adults who are at especially high risk for contracting the virus may be eligible for the inactive polio vaccine (IPV) lifetime booster shot. This is typically for adults who have had three doses of the polio vaccine already. 

For adults who did not complete their entire set of vaccination shots, your healthcare provider may recommend completing the set. Typically most individuals who complete the polio vaccination process are considered to be protected for life. However, polio vaccine boosters may be necessary for individuals traveling to or living in polio-endemic areas. 

Some individuals may not be good candidates for any further polio vaccinations. Recommendations for vaccine booster shots vary from person to person. If you have any major and possibly life-threatening allergies please disclose that information to a healthcare professional prior to receiving any injections. Disclose any other concerns or feelings of illness as well, these factors may impact whether or not you should get the shot at that time. 

How does the polio vaccine work?

There are two forms of vaccination for the poliovirus. One is an active oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) and the other is an inactive injection vaccine (IPV). IPV is the only form of polio vaccination that has been used in the United States since 2000. The OPV vaccine is not legal for use in the U.S. but is still used in many parts of the world, especially for children. 

For IPV, the typical recommendation for children is four total doses of the injection vaccine. The dose of IPV should be spaced apart at 2 months, 4 months, 6 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years old. The CDC claims that two doses of the IPV vaccine offer about 90 percent protection from polio. Three doses of IPV offer closer to 99 percent protection. 

Adults who believe that they are unvaccinated for poliovirus should consult with a healthcare professional and discuss their options for receiving the vaccine as well as the risk of contracting the virus. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for an IPV booster dose.

History of the poliovirus vaccine

The United States experienced major polio epidemics between the period of 1948-1955, during which it became apparent that the country was in need of a vaccine to control the illness. The illness impacted both children and adults resulting in a large population of American citizens who had to deal with the debilitating side effects of the illness.

Developing polio immunizations that were both safe and effective was at the forefront of health care science for a number of years. Between the years 1952-1955, Dr. Jonas E. Salk and his team of researchers successfully developed a vaccine to prevent the contraction of poliovirus. 

In 1961, another polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert B. Sabin, contributing to the reduction of polio transmission. These two vaccines were integral in controlling the impact that polio had in the United States, especially among children. By the year 1994 polio was considered to be eradicated in both North and South American countries. 

There are different stages of the virus. The symptoms of these stages range from being an asymptomatic carrier of the virus to having minor nerve damage, muscle spasms, and even paralysis. The virus attacks both the spinal cord and brainstem and when it reaches its most extreme state it may result in paralytic polio or even death.

The recent outbreak of the polio virus in New York should be taken with the utmost seriousness, especially considering the fact that polio had been considered contained for over 20 years. Continue to follow recommendations made by state and local health departments.

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Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered, construed or interpreted as legal or professional advice, guidance or opinion.

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