Polio Vaccine

This week the World Health Organization declared polio to be a global health emergency. The declaration effectively imposes travel restrictions on Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon. Readers asked Well, “Is there a danger in getting a second polio vaccine and when are boosters necessary?”
Times reporter Donald G. McNeal Jr. has some background.
First I should preface this by saying people ought to get their medical advice from doctors, not from journalists but polio is a gut virus. It thrives in hot weather. There are two different types of polio vaccine. Uh, one is a live, weakened virus you take in drops. If you’re my age, 60 years old, you got that when you were a kid.
You got either drops in your mouth or a sugar cube. We don’t get that in the United States anymore. The kind that’s given in the United States now it’s basically a killed virus and it’s injected into the arm. It doesn’t give quite as good protection as the oral vaccine but it’s safer because with the oral vaccine there is a one-in-a-million chance that it can mutate back into a something like the live polio virus. They use that oral vaccine in the third world because they have to vaccinate millions and millions of kids many times. In fact, they vaccinated more than six billion.
If adults have any possibility of travelling to a country where there is polio, they should have a booster shot as an adult and that’s considered to be enough to protect you. But there generally is no danger from getting an extra vaccination for polio. In fact, in the third world where they use the oral polio vaccine, kids get vaccinated five, six, seven, ten, fifteen times with no problems at all.
Since it’s a virus that’s transmitted from sewage to the mouth, washing your hands a lot makes sense. But you should do that a lot anyway, there’s a whole lot of other things you can get from not having clean hands.

Source: nytimes

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