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Prevention Through the Polio Vaccine

For many years, polio affected many children in the United States and around the world, causing crippling and often life-threatening effects. Fortunately, the polio vaccine is both safe and highly effective in preventing polio, saving lives and preventing a disease that can cause paralysis and even death. Thanks to this vaccine and global efforts encouraging people to vaccinate their children, polio may soon be on its way to being eradicated.

What Is Polio?

Polio is transmitted through contact with a person who has the illness or through contaminated food or water. Some people who contract the poliovirus do not know they have it, others get sick and can develop paralysis. The virus largely affects young children. Out of every 200 infections, approximately 1 will cause irreversible paralysis. Of this number, 5% to 10% of victims suffer fatal paralysis when the breathing muscles become paralyzed.

Symptoms of polio can include:

  • Fever
  • Exhaustion
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Pain in the arms and legs

There is no cure for polio, but the polio vaccine can prevent it. Since 1988, polio cases have decreased by more than 99%—from 350,000 cases globally to 74 cases in 2015. This can be declined to worldwide efforts to push the polio vaccine program. If there is an infected child anywhere, there is a risk to children everywhere. The goal is complete eradication of polio.

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