Have your polio vaccine now

Click here for UK Health Security Agency Leaflet for parents

Who is being ofered a polio booster?

All children aged 1 to 9 years in London need to have a dose of polio vaccine now. For some children this may be an extra dose of polio
vaccine, on top of their routine vaccinations. In other children it may just bring them up to date.

Why is my child being offered a polio booster?

Since February 2022, we have found a type 2 polio virus in sewage samples taken from north London. This suggests that the virus is now spreading between people. This has probably happened because vaccine uptake for the infant and toddler vaccinations in London is lower than
it should be. By giving an extra polio vaccine dose we aim to boost each child’s protection, starting with the areas of London where the virus has been detected. Boosting immunity in those who are already vaccinated should also help to reduce the risk of the virus continuing to spread.

What is polio?

Polio is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system – it can cause permanent paralysis of muscles. Before the polio vaccine was introduced, there were as many as 8,000 cases of polio in the UK in epidemic years.
Because of the success of the polio vaccination programme, there have been no cases of natural polio infection in the UK for over 30 years (the last case was in 1984) and polio was eradicated from the whole of Europe in 2003.
The polio virus found in London should not pose any risk to those who are fully vaccinated. However, whilst it is spreading, there is a small chance that those who have not been fully vaccinated, or those who cannot respond well to vaccines, could be at risk of catching polio.

The good news is that we have picked this virus up early and we want to act now to protect as many children as we can. Please come forward as soon as you are invited.

How can my child get the polio booster?

The NHS will contact you to ask you to book an appointment for your child’s polio vaccine.

Is there anyone who cannot have the vaccine?

There are very few reasons why children cannot receive the polio vaccine. If your child had a serious allergic reaction to a previous vaccination
or to certain uncommon antibiotics (neomycin, polymyxin or streptomycin) you may want to check with your doctor.

Which vaccine is my child being offered?

We are using 3 diferent types of vaccines that all provide excellent protection against polio – they are already used in the routine programme
and safely given to millions of children each year.
The only diference between the 3 vaccines is the other infections that they protect against. They all provide protection against polio, tetanus and diphtheria, but some may also top up protection against whooping cough and hepatitis B. It does not matter which of the 3 vaccines your child gets, unless they have missed out on some earlier vaccines.

Are there any side effects from this vaccine?

Your child may have some redness, swelling or tenderness in the arm where they had the injection, this will usually disappear in a few days. Rarely, a hard lump may appear in the same place but this will also resolve on its own, usually over a few weeks. Occasionally, children may be unwell and irritable
and develop a temperature and a headache.

After your child has had this extra dose, you still need to complete or catch up on the routine doses at the recommended age (or as soon as possible afterwards).

Coronavirus (Covid-19)