Polio is a disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus is transmitted from a sick individual to a healthy individual through contaminated feces that enter the digestive system of the healthier individual, usually through the consumption of contaminated water.

In approximately ninety percent of cases, people infected with the virus do not show any symptoms, but if the virus enters the bloodstream, many and varied symptoms may appear.

There is a one in a thousand chance of developing paralysis as a result of polio, which usually affects one of the legs. It is also possible for the virus to cause paralysis of other muscles as well. It can sometimes result in paralysis of the intercostal respiratory muscles or the diaphragm, resulting in the death of the patient. Before the invention of the polio vaccine, the disease killed and paralyzed millions of children throughout the world, but today, thanks to the vaccine, the disease is considered extremely rare.

Salk's vaccine

As early as the 1950s, Dr. Yona Salk developed a vaccine against the virus that causes polio. This vaccine, which is given by injection, contains a dead virus that cannot reproduce in any way, making it a safer vaccine than the other vaccine that exists for the disease, which contains a weakened strain.

There are, however, some disadvantages to this vaccine, including that it does not lead to the vaccination of other people, and that some of those vaccinated may experience paralysis as a result.

Israel's vaccine

As early as the fifties of the twentieth century, Israeli children began to be vaccinated against polio. In Israel, there were several epidemics of the disease prior to vaccination, and in 1950, 1621 cases of infection were reported.

The Salk vaccine was introduced into Israel's vaccination routine in 1989, but as awareness of its potential to cause paralysis increased among those involved in the field as well as the general population, it was replaced by an oral vaccine containing a weakened virus.

As a result of another change in policy in 2005, the oral vaccine was phased out. Today, the killed vaccine is routinely administered in six doses. The first dose is administered at the age of two months, the second at the age of four months, the third at the age of six months, and the fourth at the age of one year. Additionally, it is customary to administer a fifth dose of the vaccine to children in the second grade and a sixth dose to children in the eighth grade. As part of a vaccine called the pentavalent vaccine, the vaccine is given to babies in conjunction with vaccines against other diseases such as scurvy, whooping cough, and diphtheria.

After receiving a vaccination, when should you consult a physician?

There is no need to worry if a certain swelling or pain develops in the injection area as these are relatively common side effects. However, if a significant swelling develops in the injection area, there is a high fever, an allergic reaction, or there is very significant pain, it is imperative that you consult your physician immediately. In the event of difficulty breathing, edema or swelling in the neck or face area, immediate medical attention should be sought.