Equivalent schedules of intradermal fractional dose versus intramuscular full dose of inactivated polio vaccine for prevention of poliomyelitis

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Dec 19;12(12):CD011780. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011780.pub2.


Background: Poliomyelitis is a debilitating and deadly infection. Despite exponential growth in medical science, there is still no cure for the disease, which is caused by three types of wild polioviruses: types 1, 2, and 3. According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), wild poliovirus is still in circulation in three countries, and fresh cases have been reported even in the year 2018. Due to the administration of live vaccines, the risk for vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is high in areas that are free from wild polioviruses. This is evident based on the fact that VDPV caused 20 outbreaks between 2000 and 2011. Recent recommendations from the World Health Organization favoured the inclusion of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) in the global immunisation schedule. IPV can be delivered in two ways: intramuscularly and intradermally. IPV was previously administered intramuscularly, but shortages in vaccine supplies, coupled with the higher costs of the vaccines, led to the innovation of delivering a fractional dose (one-fifth) of IPV intradermally. However, there is uncertainty regarding the efficacy, immunogenicity, and safety of an intradermal, fractional dose of IPV compared to an intramuscular, full dose of IPV.

Objectives: To compare the immunogenicity and efficacy of an inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) in equivalent immunisation schedules using fractional-dose IPV given via the intradermal route versus full-dose IPV given via the intramuscular route.

Search methods: We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, 10 other databases, and two trial registers up to February 2019. We also searched the GPEI website and scanned the bibliographies of key studies and reviews in order to identify any additional published and unpublished trials in this area not captured by our electronic searches.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs of healthy individuals of any age who are eligible for immunisation with IPV, comparing intradermal fractional-dose (one-fifth) IPV to intramuscular full-dose IPV.

Data collection and analysis: We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane.

Main results: We included 13 RCTs involving a total of 7292 participants, both children (n = 6402) and adults (n = 890). Nine studies were conducted in middle-income countries, three studies in high-income countries, and only one study in a low-income country. Five studies did not report methods of randomisation, and one study failed to conceal the allocations. Eleven studies did not blind participants, and six studies did not blind outcome assessments. Two studies had high attrition rates, and one study selectively reported the results. Three studies were funded by pharmaceutical companies. Paralytic poliomyelitis. No study reported data on this outcome. Seroconversion rates. These were significantly higher for all three types of wild poliovirus for children given intramuscular full-dose IPV after a single primary dose and two primary doses, but only significantly higher for type two wild poliovirus given intramuscularly after three primary doses: • dose one (six studies): poliovirus type 1 (odds ratio (OR) 0.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.22 to 0.41; 2570 children); poliovirus type 2 (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.60; 2567 children); poliovirus type 3 (OR 0.19, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.30; 2571 children); • dose two (three studies): poliovirus type 1 (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.33; 981 children); poliovirus type 2 (OR 0.41, 95% CI 0.28 to 0.60; 853 children); and poliovirus type 3 (OR 0.12, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.22; 855 children); and • dose three (three studies): poliovirus type 1 (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.07 to 3.15; 973 children); poliovirus type 2 (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.63; 973 children); and poliovirus type 3 (OR 0.18, 95% CI 0.01 to 2.58; 973 children). Using the GRADE approach, we rated the certainty of the evidence as low or very low for seroconversion rate (after a single, two, or three primary doses) for all three poliovirus types due to significant risk of bias, heterogeneity, and indirectness in applicability/generalisability. Geometric mean titres. No study reported mean antibody titres. Median antibody titres were higher for intramuscular full-dose IPV (7 studies with 4887 children); although these studies also reported a rise in antibody titres in the intradermal group, none reported the duration for which the titres remained high. Any vaccine-related adverse event. Five studies (2217 children) reported more adverse events, such as fever and redness, in the intradermal group, whilst two studies (1904 children) reported more adverse events in the intramuscular group.

Authors' conclusions: There is low- and very low-certainty evidence that intramuscular full-dose IPV may result in a slight increase in seroconversion rates for all three types of wild poliovirus, compared with intradermal fractional-dose IPV. We are uncertain whether intradermal fractional-dose (one-fifth) IPV has better protective effects and causes fewer adverse events in children than intramuscular full-dose IPV.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Injections, Intradermal
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Poliovirus / immunology*
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Inactivated / administration & dosage
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Inactivated / immunology
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral / administration & dosage*
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral / immunology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vaccination / methods


  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Inactivated
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral