Poliomyelitis Prevention

Vaccinations and immunizations are an important aspect of public health in the United States, as well as abroad and have assisted in decreasing and in some cases eliminating the threat of various illness and disease. However, with these medical advancements there have been occasional instances of adverse effects related to the administering of various vaccinations. The use of certain agents has been known to cause both minor and, rarely, serious side effects and conditions.

In light of these instances, some feel concern toward receiving immunizations and vaccines, allowing controversy to arise about the issue. Science and research works diligently to assess whether these adverse reactions are directly caused by the vaccinations themselves or are a coincidence of specific events and stages of development.

In order to address public concern the United States federal government passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 which provides no-fault compensation for those who may have been injured as a result of vaccinations. In an attempt to continue research and education this same Act also requires the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to review research and evidence regarding negative effects of vaccines administered to children.  One such vaccine in which adverse reactions are monitored is the poliomyelitis vaccine which shall be further discussed below.


Poliomyelitis prevention, also referred to as OPV, or a polio vaccine are used throughout the world to combat poliomyelitis. The first of these vaccines was developed by Jonas Salk and first tested in 1952. As is the case with most vaccines, this one includes an injection dose of an inactive poliovirus. Albert Sabin later developed an oral vaccine with human trials beginning in 1957, with the vaccine becoming licensed in 1962. Together, the two types of polio vaccines have eliminated polio from nearly every country in the world, reducing worldwide incidence to an estimated total of 1,652 cases in 2007.

In very rare instances administering OPV has been associated with paralytic poliomyelitis in healthy recipients. According to a report by the CDC this condition has been fatal in a total of five cases; however, these results all occurred in immunocompromised persons. Those with congenitally acquired immune-deficiency diseases, altered immune status from acquired conditions (such as HIV or leukemia), or those who have immune systems that have been compromised from therapy (treatment for alkylating drugs for example) should not be given OPV due to their increased risk for vaccine-associated disease.

The CDC notes that because OPV contains trace amounts of streptomycin, bacitracin, and neomycin it use is not recommended in those who have previously had an anaphylactic reaction to OPV or the aforementioned antibiotics. It is also recommended that pregnant women abstain from receiving this vaccination; however, those needing immediate protection against poliomyelitis may still consider the threat of reaction with the risk of contracting the original disease.