Polio

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

Polio (or infantile paralysis) is caused by a virus that is transmitted via the faeces of infected people. The infection can cause paralysis.

Risk areas

The disease has been virtually eradicated thanks to global vaccination programmes and only occurs in a few countries in Asia and Africa.

Prevention

Vaccination

There is a good vaccine available against polio. The vaccine against poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis forms part of the basic vaccination schedule. 

Vaccination against polio is the only compulsory vaccination for all children in Belgium. People born before 1945 who have not served in the military may never have been vaccinated. Children receive the last dose around six (6) years of age. 

Vaccination scheme
If you have never been vaccinated against polio: one dose, followed by a second dose after one to two months and a third dose after six to twelve months.

For who is polio vaccination recommended?

  • Everyone who has not received all the basic vaccinations.

  • Anyone aged 16 years and older travelling to Asia or Africa who has not had a booster vaccination yet

An extra polio vaccination is recommended for some travellers
This extra vaccine is recommended, but not compulsory, for all travellers spending more than four weeks in DR Congo, Mozambique or Niger. The vaccination against polio does not need to be administered in an official yellow fever vaccination centre. 

An extra polio vaccination is compulsory for some travellers
All travellers (of all ages) who will be spending more than 4 weeks in one of the following countries, must be vaccinated against polio at least four weeks and no more than twelve months before leaving these countries: 

  • Afghanistan

  • Indonesia

  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria

  • Pakistan

  • Somalia

  • Papua New Guinea

The proof of administration of the vaccine must be documented in the International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis on pages 4 and 5, where the proof of vaccination for compulsory vaccines is listed. 

In some cases, vaccination is also compulsory for travellers departing from certain countries in Africa or Asia where polio is present (see WHO Country list of vaccination requirements).

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