Vaccinations & travel medicine

Vaccination against poliomyelitis (polio)

What is poliomyelitis (polio)?

Behind this is the disease polio, which is triggered by poliomyelitis viruses. The viruses are excreted with the stool and are mainly transmitted by smear infection (stool-hand-mouth). This can happen if you do not wash your hands properly or at all after having a bowel movement. Contaminated drinking water can also be a source of infection.
About 5 % of people infected with the virus have fever, sore throat and headache - usually misdiagnosed as (summer) flu. One in 100 to 1,000 infected people suffer permanent, flaccid paralysis of the arm or leg muscles, and in the worst cases also of the speech, swallowing or breathing muscles.
In 2002, the WHO declared the whole of Europe polio-free. However, polio still occurs in some countries and regions (for example, in Afghanistan and Pakistan) and can therefore be brought back to Germany. It therefore makes sense to get vaccinated.

Who and when should be vaccinated against childhood immunisation?

This vaccination is relevant for every age group and everyone, especially for travellers to regions with a high risk of infection.

Normally, the basic immunization takes place in childhood. After the age of 18, vaccination against tetanus and diphtheria should be given once in combination with the next due booster. A routine booster thereafter is recommended for all those who have an increased risk of infection, such as personnel who come into contact with people who may be ill or their bodily excretions, or travellers to regions where polio cases still occur.

How is the poliomyelitis vaccination carried out and what must be observed?

The polio vaccine is an inactivated vaccine and is usually given as a combination vaccination. The vaccination is given into your upper arm muscle.

The vaccination is well tolerated. Very often, the stimulation of the body's own defences causes redness or swelling at the injection site, which may also hurt. Rarely, general symptoms such as an increase in temperature, chills, fatigue, muscle aches or gastrointestinal complaints may occur in the first three days after vaccination. Such vaccination reactions usually subside after one to three days.

Good to know: Vaccine-induced polio, which occurred in very rare cases (about 1 in 3 million vaccinations) with the live vaccine used in the past, is ruled out with today's vaccine.

What should I do if I think I need a poliomyelitis vaccination?

To check whether you have been vaccinated, simply make an appointment for a vaccination status check at one of our Avi Medical practices and talk to our medical team. They will advise you in detail whether you are already protected or whether you should receive a vaccination. The doctors will also check whether there are other vaccinations that would be useful for you and will carry these out directly if necessary.