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Meningitis vaccination
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Polio is a serious infection causing paralysis of limbs. Thankfully, it’s now very uncommon around the world because of a hugely successful global polio vaccination programme. The chances of you getting polio are extremely low, with the last confirmed case in the UK being in 1984. The chances of polio does, however, increase if you’re not fully vaccinated and someone brings polio into the UK from another country. So, it’s important that you make sure you’ve had all your polio vaccinations.

Polio, what is it?

Polio vaccination schedules

The best way to protect yourself is by polio vaccination. A global polio immunisation programme has virtually eradicated this disease. In many parts of the world, it’s an oral polio vaccine (OPV vaccine) which is an active vaccine, however it’s the inactivated vaccine that we use in the UK.  

The polio vaccine is included in the UK childhood vaccination schedule and combined with vaccines against a variety of other diseases. The most common combination is the diphtheria, polio, tetanus vaccine (DPT).

You or your child will be offered five doses of the inactivated polio vaccine on the UK childhood immunisation schedule. Polio boosters can also be given later in life if you've had an incomplete vaccination course.

A Polio Vaccination starts from £39 per dose. If you’re travelling there will also be a Travel Consultation cost of £30 per person too, however, if you’re not travelling then it’s only the vaccination cost you pay.

Polio vaccine price

Dr Ravi Gowda

Dr Ravi Gowda, Consultant in Infectious Diseases or one of his highly trained clinical colleagues will be looking after your  vaccine requirements. 

Who will be providing your Polio
vaccination?
We're a team of trained experts

Experts in Infectious Diseases

and Travel Medicine

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Over 21 years of experience in Travel Health

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Cared for more than

10,000  patients

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Over 150 5 star reviews on Google Reviews

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1. Book an appointment online

Book and pay for your vaccination consultation online.

2. Attend your consultation

Complete an online health assessment and attend your consultation.

3. Get your Polio vaccination

Get the vaccination you need and you're ready to go.

How it works
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As the poliovirus is transmitted by infected faeces, good water and food precautions when you’re travelling is also an important part of prevention.

Prevention
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Sadly, there’s no treatment for polio and many children are paralysed for life and unable to walk. This is why polio immunisation is the best way to protect yourself especially if you’re travelling outside of the UK.

Polio treatment
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You might not show any symptoms at all but If you do, the polio virus can lead to symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, and stiff neck. Sometimes, the virus can invade your spinal cord and cause paralysis of a limb. An infection higher up the spinal cord is even more serious, as it can affect your breathing, and in some cases result in respiratory failure.

Polio symptoms
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Polio is a viral infection that invades the nervous system and destroys the nerves that control your muscles. The legs are usually affected resulting in debilitating paralysis. The way you might get infected is through contact with someone’s faeces, usually by consuming contaminated food or water.

Polio causes
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The most common reported side effects you might experience from the polio vaccination are pain, redness and swelling at the injection site.

Polio vaccine side effects
  • Your primary childhood course of five polio shots usually completes the course and you’re protected for life. However, in some circumstances you may require additional polio boosters for travel (see below).

  • Although polio has been virtually eradicated there are still some countries who have recently reported wild type polio:

    • Afghanistan

    • Pakistan

    Some countries have also reported the vaccine derived polio circulating in their sewage systems in the last few years. These include:

    • London, UK

    • New York State, USA

    • Israel

    • Nairobi, Kenya


    So, if you’ve not completed your childhood polio vaccine schedule or not had a booster in the last 10 yrs we’d recommend a polio booster for these countries. Please be aware that the global situation is constantly changing, so please chat to us for expert, up to date advice on your travel vaccines.

  • Some countries are technically asking for this as part of International Health Regulations. For detailed information please take a look at the World Health Organisation country list.

  • As with all vaccinations and pregnancy we have to weigh the benefits and risks of the vaccination to both the mother and the baby. You should discuss this with a knowledgeable healthcare professional and make an informed decision. As a general principle, most inactivated vaccines can be given in pregnancy if the risks of the infection are significant, but please seek expert advice. Only inactivated polio vaccines are licensed in the UK.

  • The incubation period for polio is 7 - 21 days.

  • The polio virus is shed in faeces from infected individuals. You’re at risk of infection if that faeces contaminates food and water (e.g., through poor hand hygiene and sanitation). The virus is also shed in saliva and mucus, therefore infecting others by coughing and sneezing is also a possibility.

Frequently asked questions

Authors:

Dr Ravi Gowda, Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine

MBBS, MRCP(UK), DTM&H, MRCGP, DCH, DRCOG, DFFP

Caitlin Lancaster, BSc

 

Resources:

  1. Polio WHO

  2. Country vaccination requirements and WHO recommendations for vaccination against yellow fever, poliomyelitis and malaria prophylaxis in international travellers