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Poliomyelitis Vaccination

What Are the Options?

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Two vaccines are available to prevent poliomyelitis. They are inactivated poliovirus administered by injection (IPV, also known as Salk vaccine) and live attenuated poliovirus administered orally (OPV, also known as Sabin vaccine). The World Health Organization recommends OPV, because it suppresses the circulation of wild poliovirus and is relatively inexpensive. About 80% of the world’s children in the first year of life have been fed OPV and wild poliovirus is now disappearing from the world. It has been entirely eradicated from the Western Hemisphere, so that presently there are no cases in the region and wild poliovirus can no longer be found.

The single drawback of OPV is the occurrence of about 1 case of vaccine-associated poliomyelitis per 106 doses distributed. IPV does not have this deficiency, and is still used in a few countries. A combination of IPV and OPV is used in Denmark, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank with excellent results (no polio cases and no circulation of wild virus), but this vaccine combination boosts the costs of polio immunisation. However, once the virus can no longer be detected in the world, a combination of IPV and OPV can be used for a short period to finish the job and the world can save millions of dollars each year by stopping vaccination, for there will be no wild poliovirus remaining.

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Correspondence to Dr Joseph L. Melnick.

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Melnick, J.L. Poliomyelitis Vaccination. Clin. Immunother. 6, 1–6 (1996).

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  • Poliomyelitis
  • Vaccine Recipient
  • Oral Poliovirus Vaccine
  • Inactivate Poliovirus Vaccine
  • Paralytic Poliomyelitis