Public Health

Where can I get a Polio Vaccine and Booster Shot Without Insurance?

Erica Kahn
Erica Kahn10 Sep 2022

Polio vaccines and booster shots are available at large pharmaceutical companies (e.g., Walgreens and CVS MinuteClinic), urgent care centers, and your doctor’s office. Most people are not eligible for the one-lifetime booster dose of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV). IPV is a four-dose vaccine, and 93 percent of the population is fully vaccinated by the time they are 2-years-old. 

Where to Get the Polio Vaccine (IPV) and Booster Shot

You can get the polio vaccine at most urgent care facilities, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices. If you are eligible for a polio booster shot and need one for travel reasons, you can also get IPV at a travel medicine office. Your provider can also help you schedule multiple doses of the vaccine.  

Eligibility Requirements and Recommendations for the Polio Vaccine  

IPV has been the only polio vaccine in the U.S. since 2000. Most adults in the U.S. were vaccinated against polio when they were children and are therefore protected from polio. Some adults are eligible for a one-lifetime booster. Those who are eligible are those who are going to travel to an area where the risk of getting polio is higher, healthcare workers who work with patients who have polio or work in a lab with the poliovirus. IPV is a four-dose vaccine. If you were not vaccinated at all or only partially as a child, you can still, and should, get vaccinated. 

Polio Vaccine Recommendations for Adults 

Since most adults were vaccinated as children, IPV is not a part of routine vaccination. However, if you are not vaccinated or are incompletely vaccinated, the CDC recommends this as the general timeline to receive the doses:

  • If you have never been vaccinated: The CDC recommends adults get 3 doses of IPV. Receive the first dose at any time, the second dose 1 to 2 months later, and the third dose 6 to 12 months after the second.
  • If you have been incompletely vaccinated: If you have had one or two doses in the past, you should get the remaining one or two doses.

Polio Booster Eligibility Requirements for Adults 

Only adults at increased risk of contact with poliovirus and who have completed the entire vaccination series can receive a one-lifetime booster of IPV. The following situations are considered to put individuals at a higher risk of contact with the virus:

  • You are traveling to a country where the risk of getting polio is higher. Ask your healthcare provider if you need the booster.
  • You work in a healthcare setting and/or laboratory and are handling specimens that might contain poliovirus
  • You are a healthcare worker treating patients who could have polio or have come in close contact with someone who could have polio
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Polio Vaccine Recommendations for Children 

The CDC recommends that children get their four doses of IPV at the following ages:

Dose Number



2 months


4 months


6 - 18 months 


4 - 6 years old

Children who are delayed in getting all recommended doses or who have not started their polio vaccine should start as soon as possible. If your child is delayed in getting their polio vaccine, the CDC has a recommended catch-up schedule to help determine the length of time between doses. Your pediatrician will also be able to inform you when your child should get their vaccine if they have not received it on time. 

If you plan to travel internationally, ensure you and your child are fully vaccinated against polio before departure. Following the recommended vaccine schedule will provide your child with the best protection from polio. The vaccine protects against severe polio cases in 99 percent of children who get the recommended doses. 

Status of Polio in the U.S. 

In July of 2022, an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County, New York contracted paralytic polio. This is the first polio case detected in New York in nearly a decade. He is said to have caught the disease from someone who received the oral polio vaccine which has not been administered in the U.S. since 2000 and is thought to have originated outside the U.S.

While it is possible that the man contracted polio abroad, the virus has also been discovered in sewage water in Rockland and Orange County, New York, and could have been there as early as April. A new study by the CDC suggests the virus could have been spreading for up to a year. New York State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett is quoted in a recent CNBC news article saying that, “for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected”.

In response to the symptomatic case, health officials are urging that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals complete the IPV series as it provides nearly complete protection. Only 60 percent of children under the age of 2 had received 3 doses of the polio vaccine as of August in Rockland County and in at least one of the county’s 26 zip codes, vaccination rates for polio were as low as 37 percent.  

Polio Vaccine (IPV) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

With the recent symptomatic case of Polio reported in New York, you may have some of the following questions regarding polio and the polio vaccine.    

Can I still get Polio if I am completely vaccinated?

It is extremely unlikely to get severe polio if you are completely vaccinated. Four doses of IPV provide at least 99 percent protection and two doses provide at least 90 percent protection.     

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Do childcare and elementary schools require the Polio vaccine?

All 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) require that children be vaccinated against polio if they are entering public school or childcare. There is no federal law that requires this and some states allow vaccine exemptions for religious and philosophical reasons.

How much does a Polio booster shot cost?

The polio booster shot for uninsured patients can cost between $50 to $200 or more and $10 to $40 for insured adults. This cost can include an initial consultation and a follow-up appointment to administer the booster. Most insurance companies do not cover a polio booster shot for an adult if it is travel-related. 

Most health insurance plans do cover the cost of vaccines– which include polio. If you do not have health insurance the Vaccines for Children Program (VCP) may help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, you can visit the VCP website, ask your child’s doctor, or contact your state VFC coordinator.

Bottom Line

The polio vaccine is available at urgent care centers, doctor’s offices, and local pharmacies. If you need a booster for travel you can also get one at a travel clinic. In order to receive a one-lifetime booster for polio, you need to be eligible. The polio vaccine, IPV, is a four-dose vaccine and is 99 percent effective at preventing severe diseases. The polio vaccine is typically covered by insurance. If you do not have insurance, the Vaccines for Children Program can help cover the cost. 

If you’re not sure where to get your polio vaccine, the Mira care navigation team helps members find affordable options in their area. Membership is just $45 per month and gives exclusive access to low-cost urgent care visits, affordable lab testing, and discounted prescriptions. Sign up today and start saving!

Erica Kahn

Erica graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a BS in environmental science and a minor in English and is on track to graduate with her Master's in Public Health. She is passionate about health equity, women's health, and how the environment impacts public health.