Polio Vaccine & Polio Virus
Polio is a disease caused by a virus. It enters a child’s (or adult’s) body through the mouth. Sometimes it does not cause serious illness. But sometimes it causes paralysis (can’t move arm or leg). It can kill people who get it, usually by paralyzing the muscles that help them breathe.
Oral Polio Vaccine: No longer recommended
There are two kinds of polio vaccine: IPV, which is the shot recommended in the United States today, and a live, oral polio vaccine (OPV), which is drops that are swallowed. Until recently OPV was recommended for most children in the United States. OPV helped us rid the country of polio, and it is still used in many parts of the world.
Both vaccines give immunity to polio, but OPV is better at keeping the disease from spreading to other people. However, for a few people (about one in 2.4 million), OPV actually causes polio. Since the risk of getting polio in the United States is now extremely low, experts believe that using oral polio vaccine is no longer worth the slight risk, except in limited circumstances which your doctor can describe. The polio shot (IPV) does not cause polio. If you or your child will be getting OPV, ask for a copy of the OPV supplemental Vaccine Information Statement.
In the rare event that you or your child has a serious reaction to a vaccine, there is a federal program that can help pay for the care of those who have been harmed.
What are the risks from IPV?
Some people who get IPV get a sore spot where the shot was given. The vaccine used today has never been known to cause any serious problems, and most people don’t have any problems at all with it. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, could cause serious problems, such as a severe allergic reaction. The risk of a polio shot causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small, but it still happens! In those cases, people injured may file a claim under the NVICP (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program).
What if there is a serious reaction? What should I look for? Look for any unusual condition, such as a serious allergic reaction, high fever, or unusual behavior. If a serious allergic reaction occurred, it would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, weakness, hoarseness or wheezing, a fast heart beat, hives, dizziness, paleness, or swelling of the throat.
What should I do? Call a doctor, or get the person to a doctor right away. Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination was given. Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form. Or you can file this report through the VAERS website, or by calling 1-800-822-7967. VAERS does not provide medical advice. Reporting reactions helps experts learn about possible problems with vaccines.
Can I bring a lawsuit? Contact our lawyers to see if you qualify for a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.