It is important that children are up to date with all their routine vaccinations to protect their health now and for the future. This includes the polio vaccination.

You can contact your GP surgery to check if your child is up to date with their polio vaccinations. For children and babies, you can also check their personal child health record (the ‘Red Book’). If your child is not registered with a GP, you can still arrange a vaccination. Please see the questions below for details on how to do this.

More information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polio/

What should I do if my child or I am not registered with a GP?

If your child is not registered with a GP, you can still arrange a vaccination. Anyone in England can register with a GP surgery. It’s free to register. You do not need any proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

You can find a GP local to you at www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-gp

You can either register your child online or call or email the GP surgery and ask to be registered as a patient. Once you are registered the NHS will let you know when you can book your polio appointment. There is also information on large-scale vaccination centres in south east London where you can book an appointments in the ‘Where do I get my child’s vaccine?’ section above.

What do I do if my child or I have not been vaccinated against polio?

Routine polio vaccination is available to everyone in England. It is never too late to catch up for free on the NHS at any time. People should also get vaccinated even if they’ve had polio before as the vaccine protects against three different types of poliovirus. Contact your GP (or register – see section above – for free with a GP surgery) if you are an adult who has not had a polio vaccination.

What is polio?

Polio is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system – it can cause permanent paralysis of muscles. Before the polio vaccine was introduced, there were as many as 8,000 cases of polio in the UK in epidemic years. Because of the success of the polio vaccination programme, there have been no cases of natural polio infection in the UK for over 30 years (the last case was in 1984) and polio was eradicated from the whole of Europe in 2003.

When would my child have been vaccinated against polio?

The polio vaccine is free and given as part of combined jabs to babies, toddlers and teenagers. Children need all five doses of the vaccine to be fully protected against polio. The polio vaccine is given when a child is:

  • 8, 12 and 16 weeks old as part of the 6-in-1 vaccine (DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB)
  • 3 years and 4 months old as part of the 4-in-1 (DTaP/IPV) pre-school booster
  • 14 years old as part of the 3-in-1 (Td/IPV) teenage booster

Is there anyone who cannot have a polio vaccine?

There are very few reasons why children cannot receive the polio vaccine. If your child had a serious allergic reaction to a previous vaccination or to certain uncommon antibiotics (neomycin, polymyxin or streptomycin) you may want to check with your doctor.

Is polio a threat to children’s health in the UK?

Polio is not back in England. There have been no clinical cases of wild polio in England. The last case of wild polio in the UK was in 1984 and the UK was declared polio-free by the WHO in 2003.

Earlier in 2022 traces of type 2 poliovirus were detected in sewage samples in North and East London. The polio virus found in London should not pose any risk to those who are fully vaccinated. During 2022, children aged 1 to 9 years old in London were offered a dose of polio vaccine. For some children this was an extra dose on top of their routine vaccinations. In other children it brought them up to date with their routine vaccinations.

We are working together to try and ensure all children are up to date with all their routine vaccinations.

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