The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Polio : vaccine advice

Updated August 25, 2017

Updated: August 24, 2017


•Information for health care providers related to the fourteenth statement regarding the international spread of poliovirus has been updated.

What is polio?

Polio is a highly contagious disease. It can cause paralysis and death. It is spread through the feces of a person who is infected with the virus and through contaminated food and water.

Why should you be concerned?

Polio infections still occur in a few countries around the world. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented by vaccination. Some countries may require that you show proof of polio vaccination to enter or leave their country.

How can you protect yourself from polio virus?

Get vaccinated against polio if you:
•have not received all the recommended doses of polio vaccine according to provincial/territorial vaccination schedule or
•don’t know your vaccination history.

Infants and children under 18 years of age:
•Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada. See provincial/territorial immunization schedules for further information.
•Make sure your child has received all the recommended doses before travelling.

Adult (18 years and older):
•Get a booster dose if you have not received a booster dose against polio since your 18th birthday.
•Get the remaining doses before leaving if you have not completed your polio vaccine series.
•Get fully vaccinated against polio if you have not received any vaccines against polio.

Find out where polio is circulating and if you need proof of vaccination:
•Visit the country page of your destination◦Click on the Health tab
◦Click on the Vaccines link and scroll down to Polio for detailed information

•Remember to check the health information for each country you plan to visit.

Practise safe food and water precautions
•Only eat foods that are well cooked and served hot.
•Drink water that has been boiled, disinfected or is in a commercially sealed bottle.

Practise good hygiene:
•Wash your hands frequently◦Use soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds:◾before eating.
◾before and after handling food.
◾after using the bathroom.
◾after changing diapers.

◦Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Information for health care providers

The Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT) has developed a statement in accordance with the WHO temporary recommendations to provide guidance for health care professionals who are preparing travellers to visit areas with a risk of polio transmission.

On August 3, 2017 the WHO released an update regarding the international spread of polio and temporary recommendations were updated. The situation is reviewed every three months.

For the latest updates on WHO Temporary Recommendations please consult the Global Eradication Initiative.

Related links

•About polio
•Assistance – Sickness or Injury
•Country travel advice and advisories
•Eat and drink safely
•If You Get Sick After Travelling

Other Resources

•Global Polio Eradication Initiative
•World Health Organization – Polio Fact Sheet
•Public Health Agency of Canada – Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Poliomyelitis (Polio)
•World Health Organization – Fourteenth meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2015) regarding the international spread of poliovirus
•World Health Organization – Disease outbreak news

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Date modified: 2017-04-05