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Polio vaccination

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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In the UK, the use or oral polio vaccine has was replaced by use of inactivated polio vaccine (1):

  • combined vaccine - diphtheria, tetanus, acelular pertussis, inactivated polio and haemophilus inflenzae type B (DTaP/IPV/Hib)
    • administered at two, three and four months old as part of the childhood immunisation schedule
    • if the primary course is interrupted it should be resumed but not repeated, allowing an interval of one month between the remaining doses

  • combined vaccine - diphtheria, tetanus, acelular pertussis, inactivated polio vaccine (dTaP/IPV)
    • administered as part of the pre-school booster

  • diphtheria, tetanus and inactivated polio vaccine (Td/IPV)
    • recommended for boosting teenagers aged 13 to 18 years old
    • can also be used for primary immunisation in unvaccinated individuals aged 10 years and over

Travellers and those going to reside abroad

  • all travellers to epidemic or endemic areas should ensure that they are fully immunised according to the UK schedule
  • additional doses of vaccines may be required according to the destination and the nature of travel intended
  • in consideration of travel vaccination - where tetanus, diphtheria or polio protection is required and the final dose of the relevant antigen was received more than ten years ago, Td/IPV should be given (2)

Oral polio vaccine (OPV) is no longer available for routine use and will only be available for outbreak control (2).

Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is made from polio virus strains Mahoney (Salk serotype 1), MEF-1 (Salk serotype 2) and Saukett (Salk serotype 3) grown in Vero cell culture

  • these components are treated with formaldehyde and then adsorbed onto adjuvants, either aluminium phosphate or aluminium hydroxide, to improve immunogenicity
  • the final vaccine mixture contains 40, 8 and 32 D-antigen units of serotypes 1, 2 and 3 respectively

OPV contains live attenuated strains of poliomyelitis virus types 1, 2 and 3 grown in cultures of monkey kidney cells or in human diploid (MRC-5) cells


  1. Department of Health (August 10th 2004). New vaccinations for the childhood immunisation programme. PL/CMO/2004/3, PL/CNO/2004/2, PL/CPHO/2004/3.
  2. Department of Health (April 2019). Poliomyelitis - Green Book.

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