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Children's Health

Oral polio better or injectable vaccine

04/21/2009

Question:

I stay in India, here about 17-18 doses of oral polio are given from birth till the child is 5 yrs of age. Are there some bad effects of so many doses, should I ask my doctor to give injectable polio vaccine to my second child who will be born in july 2009?

Answer:

Thank you very much for the question.  You have asked a question that has sparked much historical debate.  At one time, it was thought that the Oral polio vaccine was more antigenic and thus provided a better immune response.  However, since it was a live vaccine, there was a small risk of an individual developing
vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP).  Since the last case of virus-associated polio in the United States occurred in 1979, the US government has moved to using the injectable polio vaccine.  Oral polio vaccine is no longer given in the US.

Given that the rates of virus-associated polio are still quite high in India, the public health system in India still administers the oral vaccine.  As for which is more appropriate for your child, only you and your child's physician can answer that question.  However, I would recommend that you contact the public health agency in your city or town to acquire information or the numbers of polio cases in your region.  This could help guide your decision on which vaccine to use. 

I have attached a link to the CDC's website which discusses the polio vaccine.

Related Resources:

Polio Vaccine Website

For more information:

Go to the Children's Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Stephen E Wilson, MD, MSc Stephen E Wilson, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati