The Polio Vaccine: An Example of Evolving Risks and Benefits

In the last few years we have seen two major milestones towards polio eradication. In 2015, one of the three types of poliovirus was declared eradicated. In 2016, the oral polio vaccine (OPV) that included all three types of poliovirus was replaced with an OPV that only includes the two active polioviruses. These milestones create an opportunity to discuss polio and how vaccine recommendations are adapted based on the changing risks of a disease vs. the risk and benefits of the vaccine. When we hear about changes to the CDC vaccine schedule, usually we only think about more vaccines being added; however, vaccines in the schedule can also be removed or altered. Currently, the only vaccine that has been completely withdrawn from the vaccine schedule is smallpox, which occurred after smallpox was eradicated. While polio has neither been eradicated nor the vaccine removed from the schedule, there have been many changes to the polio vaccine recommendations, including changes in the type of polio vaccine used. This article will discuss polio disease, the risks and benefits of the different types of vaccines, how vaccine recommendations have changed, and the plans for polio eradication.   What is polio? Polio (or poliomyelitis) is … Continue reading The Polio Vaccine: An Example of Evolving Risks and Benefits