Your baby should be immunised against polio at 2, 3 and 4 months old. They
will be given a booster before they start school and they will get another booster
between the ages of 13 and18. The polio vaccine protects against the disease
poliomyelitis. Unlike other immunisations, it is given as a liquid to swallow.
What is polio?
Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can permanently paralyse
the muscles. If it affects the chest muscles, polio can kill. The virus is passed
in the faeces of people with polio or people who have just been immunised against
Make sure anyone who changes your baby's nappy washes their hands thoroughly
afterwards. The vaccine will continue to be passed into your baby's nappy for
up to 6 weeks. People who have not been immunised against polio themselves could
be affected by the tiny amount of virus in the vaccine if they come into contact
with it. There is about one case of this each year in the UK.
Anyone who has not had the polio vaccine, including grandparents who might
be looking after your baby, should talk to their doctor about it. They can arrange
to have the vaccine at the same time as your baby.
There is an extremely small chance of developing polio from the vaccine - about
one case in more than 1.5 million doses used.
Common Questions About The Polio Vaccine
How soon after their polio vaccine can I take my baby swimming?
You can take your baby swimming at any time, both before and after they have
their polio vaccine. There is no risk of children catching, or passing on, polio
in swimming pools.
Your baby does not need any immunisations before they go swimming.
Dr Stephen Rose, MD, FRCP, FRCPCh