The Polio Vaccine: Health 101

Is the polio vaccine really necessary?

Because polio has pretty much disappeared from the United States, some people may think that getting vaccinated is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, just because polio is no longer widespread here doesn't mean we're completely immune. Here's why: In very, very rare cases the oral version of the polio vaccine actually causes polio. Although this version is no longer available in the U.S., it's still used in other countries. "Almost all of the cases of polio that we see in the U.S. today come from unvaccinated people exposed to the virus from those who received the oral vaccine in another country," says Paul Offit, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and American Baby magazine advisory board member. "Someone with the disease just has to walk right into the country to cause an outbreak, which makes it important to continue to vaccinate against it."

Sources: Paul Offit, MD, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and a member of the American Baby magazine advisory board member. Michael T. Brady, MD, the Vice Chair of the AAP's Committee on Infectious Diseases. Medline Plus: a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health section on Polio Vaccination. CDC sections on Polio Vaccination.


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