Polio is an infection that affects the nerve cells in the spinal cord. 

What is polio?

Polio is a disease that affects the nerve cells in the spinal cord. Although the polio vaccine has gotten rid of (eliminated) polio disease in most countries, it still can be found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, and can be brought to other countries by infected people traveling on planes. 

How is polio spread?

Polio is spread by contact with the bowel movements (stool) of an infected person. This can happen from eating food or drinking water contaminated with the stool of an infected person. 

What are the symptoms of polio?

Most people infected with polio show no symptoms. If symptoms happen they can include: 

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Neck and back stiffness
  • Muscle weakness and pain

What are the risks of polio disease?

  • Paralysis of arms and legs (1 in 200) 
  • Death 

How can I prevent getting polio?

The best way to not get polio is to get immunized. The polio vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get the disease. When you get immunized you help protect others as well. There is no cure for polio, so preventing the disease is very important.

Who should get the polio vaccine?

The polio vaccine is given free (publicly funded) as part of the B.C. routine immunization schedule. The vaccine is often combined with other vaccines to give protection against several diseases in one shot. Adults at increased risk for polio are also eligible for a free vaccine. Learn more about who should get the polio vaccine.

Get immunized against polio by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist (for those 5 years and older) or Public Health. If you are travelling to a country where the polio virus is circulating, talk to your doctor or visit a travel clinic about getting vaccinated.

Booking an immunization appointment with Public Health

Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906

Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087 

Hours of operation: Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)

Note: When making an appointment with Public Health, you will be offered a text message reminder through the ImmunizeBC text message reminder system. 


For more information about polio and the polio vaccine, go to: