How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Poliomyelitis vaccine belongs to a group of medications known as vaccines. It is used to prevent infections caused by poliovirus in infants, children, and adults. It increases your defenses against polio infection by stimulating the production of your own antibodies, which will remain in the body until needed to fight off any future poliovirus you may be exposed to.

Your doctor may have suggested this vaccine for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are receiving this vaccine, speak to your doctor.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each 0.5 mL dose of clear, colourless solution contains inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine composed of the following virus strains: Type 1 (Mahoney), Type 2 (MEFI) and Type 3 (Saukett). Nonmedicinal ingredients:  2-phenoxyethanol, plus the following residuals from the manufacturing process: formaldehyde, residual calf serum protein, trace amounts of neomycin, streptomycin and polymyxin B, Medium 199 Hanks (without phenol red) up to 0.5 mL.

How should I use this medication?

The usual dose of this vaccine is 0.5 mL given as 3 subcutaneous (under the skin) injections.

This vaccine is given by a health care professional in a doctor's office, hospital, or clinic.

Immunization should begin at 2 months of age. The first dose is given at the initial visit, the second dose 2 months later, and the third dose 4 months after the initial visit. A booster dose is recommended approximately 12 months after the third dose.

Additional booster doses should be given between 4 and 6 years of age and between 14 and 16 years of age.

Adults who have not been immunized against polio should receive 2 doses of the vaccine, separated by 4 to 8 weeks, and a third dose 6 to 12 months later. If you are travelling to an area where polio is still a possible infection within 4 weeks, the first dose should be given and then the remaining doses given upon your return.

Adults and adolescents who are at a greater risk of poliovirus exposure (i.e., travellers, laboratory workers) may be given a single booster dose of this vaccine if more than 10 years have passed since the last dose of their complete polio vaccination series.

It is very important that this vaccine be given on a regular schedule as prescribed by the doctor. If your child misses a dose of this vaccine, check with your child's health care professional. Add all vaccines your child receives to their immunization record.

This medication is stored in the refrigerator and should not be allowed to freeze.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to polio vaccine or any ingredients of the medication
  • have an acute, severe illness

Do not give this medication to infants under 6 weeks of age.

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • fever
  • pain or swelling at the injection site

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Allergic reactions: As with any vaccine, allergic reactions are possible with the polio vaccine. Your doctor may want you to remain in the clinic or office for a period of time after receiving the vaccine, to ensure that you do not develop an allergic reaction.

Immune system: As with any vaccine, this vaccine may not be as effective for people with a weakened immune system (e.g., people with AIDS or cancer, people taking antirejection medications after an organ transplant, people receiving chemotherapy, people taking any medication that suppresses the immune system). If you or your child has a weakened immune system, the doctor may decide to postpone the vaccine until the immune system recovers.

Infection or fever: This vaccine should not be given to anyone who has an active infection or an illness associated with fever, unless the doctor decides that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Vaccine protection: As with any vaccine, this vaccine may not protect 100% of people who receive it and may not prevent infection in those people already infected with the virus.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. However, if you have not been vaccinated against polio, and exposure to polio is likely, the vaccine should be given.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if polio vaccine passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 6 weeks of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between polio virus (inactivated) vaccine and any of the following:

  • acetaminophen
  • belimumab
  • fingolimod
  • immunosuppressants (medications used to treat cancer or autoimmune disease, or prevent organ rejection)
    • azathioprine
    • corticosteroids (e.g., budesonide, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, fluticasone, prednisone)
    • cyclosporine
    • hydroxyurea
    • infliximab
    • medications to treat cancer (e.g., carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, ifosfamide, vincristine)
    • mycophenolate
    • rituximab
    • tacrolimus
  • warfarin

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.