Polio Vaccine

Is the polio vaccine safe and effective?

Yes! Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), which is the only polio vaccine given in the United States since 2000, protects 99 – 100 percent of people who get all recommended doses. Among both children and adults, IPV has long been proven safe and effective. IPV does not contain any live virus, and it cannot cause polio. It's critical to get all recommended doses for the best protection possible. Learn more about IPV at CDC's Polio vaccination website.

Who should get immunized against polio?

  • All individuals – children and adults – who are known or suspected to be unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated against polio should be vaccinated according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice's (ACIP) routine and catch-up schedules.
    • The recommendations were updated in June 2023 and now say that adults who are unvaccinated or have not received all recommended polio vaccine doses should receive additional doses to complete their primary series using inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).
  • If vaccination is recommended and a provider does not have doses on hand, New Yorkers should contact their local health department.

When should children get vaccinated against polio?

As part of routine childhood immunization, children should get the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to protect against polio. According to the CDC's ACIP recommendations, children should get four doses total, with one dose at each of the following ages:

Dose 1 6 weeks through 2 months old
Dose 2 4 months old
Dose 3 6 months through 18 months old
Dose 4 4 years through 6 years old

Children who have not started their polio vaccine series or who are delayed in getting all recommended doses should start as soon as possible and finish their series by following the recommended catch-up schedule. For more information, see CDC's Vaccine Schedules for Parents.

If I am not vaccinated, not up to date with vaccinations, or unsure of my vaccination status, what should I do?

  • Adults and children who are known or suspected to be unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated against polio should complete a primary vaccination series with IPV.
    • This is particularly important for people who live or work in the areas where poliovirus has been repeatedly detected (Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan Counties, and Brooklyn and Queens within New York City) and don't believe they are vaccinated.

If I am unsure or can't locate proof of my or my child's vaccination status, what should I do?

New Yorkers who are unsure of their own or their child's vaccination status should contact their healthcare provider or immunization clinic. If your child is under 19 years old, their healthcare provider is required to record their polio immunizations in the New York State Immunization System (NYSIIS) or the Citywide Immunization Registry (CIR) and should have that information available. Records for adults may also be available in NYSIIS or CIR.

Polio vaccine is a core component of CDC's childhood immunization schedule and required by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) for all school-aged children. Most children and adults in the US are already vaccinated.

Who should get a booster dose?

If the primary series has been completed, those adults at increased risk of poliovirus infection may receive a single lifetime booster. This includes people at high risk for polio and might include:

  • Individuals traveling to a country where polio is epidemic or endemic, in accordance with CDC guidance for travelers.
  • Laboratory and healthcare workers who handle specimens that might contain polioviruses
  • Healthcare providers or other caregivers who have close contact with patients in a community with a polio outbreak
  • Other adults who are identified by public health authorities as being part of a group or population at increased risk of exposure because of an outbreak. In New York State, this may include:
    • Individuals who collect or work with wastewater specimens for poliovirus testing, especially in areas where poliovirus is circulating.
    • Healthcare workers who work in areas with community transmission of poliovirus and who could care for patients with poliovirus (e.g., urgent care, emergency department, neurology, pediatrics).
    • Childcare or pre-K providers who work in areas with community transmission of poliovirus and provide diapering or toileting care or assistance.
    • Individuals who will or might have exposure to a person known or suspected to be infected with poliovirus, such as household members and other close contacts of a case or suspect case who provide care.

Areas considered to have community transmission of poliovirus include those where poliovirus has been repeatedly detected in wastewater. At this time, that includes Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan Counties, and Brooklyn and Queens in New York City. At this time, booster doses are not recommended for individuals traveling to the New York City metropolitan area, including Rockland, Orange, or Sullivan Counties, merely because of their travel status.

What side effects should I expect after polio immunization(s), for me or my child?

You or your child may not notice any changes after getting your polio shots. But it's also possible to feel a little "under the weather." This can happen after any vaccine. Following IPV, you or your child may have a sore spot where the shot was given. Importantly, IPV has not been known to cause serious problems, and most people do not have any problems with it. Learn more about IPV at CDC's Polio vaccination website.

Can IPV give me polio?

No! The IPV vaccine, which does not contain live virus, cannot give you polio.

What is the oral polio vaccine (OPV), and can it give people polio?

OPV, which is no longer licensed or available in the United States, is a type of polio vaccine that is used in other parts of the world. Children receive doses of the vaccine by drops in the mouth. The virus strain in OPV doesn't cause polio, but if it spreads among an under-vaccinated population, it can – very rarely – mutate into a form that can cause disease. Since 2000, only IPV has been used in the United States to eliminate the risk of vaccine-derived poliovirus that can occur with OPV. For more information, see the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)'s webpage About Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) here.

How can people pay for the polio vaccine?

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. However, you may want to check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor.

If you don't have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child's doctor. You can also contact your State VFC coordinator. Adults can also see Finding and Paying for Vaccines or Find a Travel Medicine Clinic.

Get immunized! Make sure you and your children are up to date with polio immunizations.

Local health departments are hosting free polio vaccine clinics. New Yorkers can also contact a healthcare provider, clinic, or local health department in their area.

Scheduling information: