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North Carolina Immunization Branch

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Polio (poliomyelitis)

The Disease

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system.  The virus lives in the throat and intestinal tract. It is most often spread through person-to-person contact with the stool of an infected person and may also be spread through oral/nasal secretions.

The Vaccine

There are two types of vaccine that protect against polio: inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV). IPV, used in the United States since 2000, is given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on patient's age. Polio vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines. OPV has not been used in the United States since 2000 but is still used in many parts of the world.

Who Should get Vaccinated?

Most people should get polio vaccine when they are children. Children get four doses of IPV, at these ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and booster dose at 4-6 years.

North Carolina Requirements

Children are required to receive four doses of polio vaccine in North Carolina.  Individuals entering college or university for the first time must have received three doses of polio.

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