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The disease

  • Polio is a disease caused by infection with the poliovirus.
  • While most polio infections show no symptoms, others can result in paralysis of arms or legs and even death. Paralysis occurs in about 1 in 200 people infected with the poliovirus.
  • Polio can be spread by contact with the bowel movements (stool) of an infected person. This can happen from eating food or drinking water contaminated with stool.
  • Extensive use of the polio vaccine has eliminated the disease in the western hemisphere. However, polio still exists in three countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria). It takes only one traveler with polio to bring the disease into Canada, and if people aren't immunized, it could spread quickly here. To keep Canada polio-free, we need to keep vaccinating against it until the disease is completely eliminated world-wide. 

The vaccines

The polio vaccine is the best way to protect against polio. The vaccine is combined with other vaccines so that you or your child can get protection against several diseases with fewer shots. There are several different combination vaccines used to prevent polio in infants, children, adolescents, and adults.

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib) Vaccine

  • This vaccine is given as a series of 3 doses to infants at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. 

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP-IPV-Hib) Vaccine

  • This vaccine is given to infants as a booster dose at 18 months of age after completing a three-dose primary series of DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib.

Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Polio (Tdap-IPV) Vaccine

  • This vaccine is given as one dose to children 4-6 years of age. This is a booster dose for children who were immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio at a younger age. The booster dose strengthens or boosts the immune system to give better protection against these diseases.

Polio (IPV) Vaccine

  • This vaccine is mostly given as a booster dose to adults who had a series of polio vaccine in childhood and are at increased risk of exposure to the poliovirus (for example, through work or travel).
  • People who have not been immunized and may be exposed to the poliovirus through work or travel should also get the vaccine.
  • A series of this vaccine can also be given to infants and children who have already received protection from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and Hib in other vaccines.

Click on the vaccine name to access the HealthLink BC file for more information about the vaccine, including possible reactions and who should not get the vaccine.

Date last updated: 
Thursday, Mar 19, 2020
Date last reviewed: 
Thursday, Mar 19, 2020