/ Impfservice 9 Poliomyelitis – also called polio or infantile paralysis

What is poliomyelitis (polio)?

Poliomyelitis is caused by the polio virus. This virus is highly contagious. It is transmitted through contact with saliva or faeces. In most cases, the disease is free of symptoms. Some people react with gastroenteritis, fever, neck pain or headache. However, about 1 in 200 infected persons suffers damage to the central nervous system, resulting in paralysis. If the diaphragm is affected, this leads to respiratory arrest. What is known as post-polio syndrome can cause creeping paralysis and muscular atrophy even many years after an infection has occurred.

After infection, it takes 4 to 10 days for the first symptoms to appear. Infected persons excrete the virus through the intestines for 3 to 5 weeks.

There exists no treatment for polio itself; only the symptoms can be relieved.

Since the introduction of polio vaccination in the 1960s, the number of cases has declined massively. In Austria, the last recorded polio case dates back to 1980; in 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Europe polio-free. However, polio still occurs in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria, in Africa (Nigeria, Niger, Congo, Somalia) and in Papua New Guinea. Further cases of this disease are regularly reported by other African and Asian countries. The virus can be introduced to any country and spread there; if unprotected through vaccination, infection is still a possibility.


Vaccination advice for children

The polio vaccination is covered by the free-of-charge child vaccination programme available in Austria. It is part of the six-in-one vaccination that also provides protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), haemophilus influenzae and hepatitis B.


Vaccination schedule

First vaccination: in the 3rd month of life
Second vaccination: in the 5th month of life
Third vaccination: 11. in the 11th to 12th months of life
Fourth vaccination*: at the age of 7 to 9 years

* This is given as a four-in-one vaccination that also confers protection against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).


Vaccination advice for adults

The booster vaccination is given either as a single vaccine or as a combined vaccine that also confers protection against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).

Booster vaccinations:
• every 10 years (persons under 60 years of age)
• every 5 years (persons over 60 years of age)

After 2 booster vaccinations, further boosters are only required in case of increased risk (specific types of work/activity). In the absence of basic immunisation: 2 vaccinations with an interval of 1 to 2 months in between; 3rd vaccination: 6 to 12 months after the second vaccination.

The level of protection is 100%.


Information and consultancy

Have you never been vaccinated against polio? Or were you vaccinated a long time ago? Do you have trouble finding your Certificate of Vaccination?