Although polio is a routine vaccine series that all travelers should have completed, SafeGard Travel Medicine physicians recommend a polio vaccine booster for travelers to certain countries where it is still considered endemic or where there has been a recent outbreak. The travel pharmacies we work with provide both the initial series and the booster shot.
Polio is a virus that can cause incurable paralysis. It is spread by person to person contact. It can also be spread by contaminated food and water. Symptoms may be minor, such as sore thoat, cough, tiredness, headache, and pain in the arms and legs. While most people recover completely, polio can cause permanent loss of muscle function leading to paralysis or even death.
The polio vaccine has been effective in eliminating polio in many places around the globe. If you have not completed the routine series of polio shots, you will be encouraged to complete the series. If you will be going to a location of possible risk, our physician may recommend a one-time adult booster shot. As always, practice good hygiene and safe food and water precautions.
Travelers going to certain parts of Africa and Asia may be at risk for polio. Currently there are three countries where polio is still considered endemic, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Due to frequent travel and contact with these polio infected countries, approximately 7 other countries have reported cases of polio over the last year. All travelers to any of these countries should consider being adequately vaccinated against polio.