Why get immunised against polio?

Polio (also called poliomyelitis) is a viral infection that can cause paralysis and death.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from polio.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is an international plan to eliminate polio from every country in the world. Australia has been officially polio-free since 2000, and only a few countries in the world still have polio.

Polio immunisation is still very important. This is because polio can be brought into Australia by people who travel to countries that have polio. If Australians are not immunised, the disease could start spreading again.

By getting vaccinated against polio, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are unable to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

Who should get immunised against polio?

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against polio can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

Polio immunisation is recommended for:

  • children aged two months, four months, six months and four years, for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • all adults who were not immunised against polio when they were children
  • people who travel to countries that still have polio
  • healthcare workers or laboratory workers who may come in contact with polio.

People under 20 years old, refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age, can get polio vaccines for free under the NIP. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood. This is called catch-up vaccination.

Where can you get a polio immunisation?

Polio immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for information.

How do you get immunised against polio?

You can get polio vaccines on their own or as a combination vaccine. All the polio vaccines available in Australia are given as a needle. In the past, polio vaccines were given as drops in the mouth.

Polio vaccines for people of any age include:

Polio vaccines for children under 10 years old include:

Polio vaccines for adults, teenagers and children over 10 years old include:

Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your polio immunisation.

Do I need to pay for polio immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of polio immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.

For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of polio vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that worry you.

Common side effects of polio vaccines include:

  • pain, redness and hardness where the needle went in
  • fever, crying and decreased appetite in children.

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against polio? list the side effects of each vaccine.

More information


If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.


Last updated: 
22 December 2017