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

A good vaccine against polio is available. 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.

  • For certain countries an additional polio vaccination is recommended, but not mandatory. The extra vaccination does not have to be administered in an official yellow fever vaccination centre, but is best registered in the International Vaccination Certificate and Prophylaxis (on the pages for other vaccinations).
  • If you stay longer than four weeks in one of the following countries, an additional polio vaccination is compulsory. This vaccination must be administered at least four weeks and a maximum of twelve months before leaving these countries. The vaccination must be registered in the International Vaccination and Prophylaxis Certificate (on pages 4 and 5 for the compulsory vaccinations).
    • Afghanistan
    • Philippines
    • Indonesia
    • Malaysia
    • Myanmar
    • Nigeria
    • Pakistan

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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