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Polio vaccination. What is the difference between IPV and OPV?

Poliomyelitis is an extremely contagious infectious disease caused by polioviruses that enter the body usually through unwashed hands and sometimes through water containing the pathogens. Polioviruses can infect the cells of the nervous system, which are responsible for muscle contraction and movement, and thus cause incurable paralysis.

There is no cure for poliomyelitis. The only protection against the disease is vaccination. Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV) are used to fight polio.

According to the Ukrainian vaccination calendar, a total of 6 doses of the vaccine should be received:

☛ 2 doses of IPV vaccine: at 2 and 4 months,

☛ 4 doses of OPV vaccine: at 6, 18 months, 6 and 14 years.

They can be obtained free of charge from a family doctor or a pediatrician.


What is the difference between IPV and OPV?

IPV is an inactivated polio vaccine that contains a killed virus and is given by injection. It prevents the poliovirus from entering the cells of the nervous system, which protects against paralysis.


OPV is an oral polio vaccine that contains a "live", but weakened virus, it is dripped into the mouth. Such a vaccine well forms immunity in the child's intestines, thereby protecting against infection and stopping the spread of infection.



Both vaccines protect a person from the disease, but OPV also protects against the possibility of becoming a carrier of the pathogen and transmitting it to others.

In countries with a low risk of exposure to the pathogen and a low risk of its spread (for example, due to the high level of vaccination coverage of children - more than 90%), only an inactivated vaccine can be used for vaccination, such as in the USA and Great Britain, EU countries.

In countries with a risk of outbreaks, the so-called "mixed vaccination scheme" is used - both inactivated and oral poliomyelitis vaccine. Unfortunately, we are also among such countries. In 2022, less than 70% of children under the age of 1 received the necessary polio vaccinations in Ukraine.

If, due to the use of combined vaccines or the absence of the OPV vaccine, the child receives only IPV, there is nothing wrong with that. However, on occasion, it is advisable to also receive at least one dose of OPV. The exception is children with immunodeficiency - live OPV vaccine is contraindicated for them, so they are vaccinated only with IPV.


Ministry of Health of Ukraine

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