New York declares polio emergency to raise immunization rates. New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a polio emergency on Friday in response to mounting concerns about the spread of the disease in the state and calls for increased immunization rates.
As of today, poliovirus has been found in sewage samples from four counties surrounding the New York metro area, including the city itself. Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and most recently Nassau are the counties involved.
State health officials reported that the samples tested positive for the poliovirus, which may cause paralysis in people. Paralytic illness is most likely to strike unvaccinated people in Orange, Rockland, Nassau, New York City, and Sullivan counties in New York.
The first confirmed case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade occurred in July in an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County, New York initiated wastewater surveillance.
In an effort to increase the immunization rate in places where it has dropped, the emergency declaration will broaden the network of vaccine administrators to include pharmacists, midwives, and emergency medical services personnel.
Dr. Mary Bassett, New York’s Health Commissioner, has urged all non-vaccinated New Yorkers to receive immunizations right away. People and families who are concerned about whether or not they are up-to-date on their vaccinations are encouraged to get the answers they need from their doctor, local clinic, or county health agency.
Bassett emphasized that “we just cannot roll the dice” when it comes to polio. I strongly advise people in New York to take no chances. Those who get the recommended dose of the polio vaccine are protected from the disease.
Some counties in New York have an extremely low polio vaccination rate. According to the health department, the immunization rate is 60% in Rockland County, 58% in Orange County, 62% in Sullivan County, and 79% in Nassau County. A little over 79% of the population in the state has been vaccinated against polio.
According to the health department, the purpose of the vaccine campaign is to increase statewide immunization rates to levels exceeding 90%.
It’s important to give a little extra encouragement to some lucky New Yorkers.
Health experts have recommended that certain New Yorkers who have completed their vaccination series have a single booster shot to protect them for life. Those at risk include everyone who has come into touch with a confirmed or suspected polio patient, including household contacts.
If you work in an area where poliovirus has been found and you handle specimens or treat patients who may have polio, you should get vaccinated. Health experts advise getting a booster if your employer puts you in contact with wastewater.
The polio vaccine should be given in four separate doses to every child. The first dose is given when the baby is between 6 weeks and 2 months old, the second at 4 months, the third between 6 months and 18 months, and the fourth between 4 and 6 years old.
Anyone above the age of 18 who has only taken one or two doses should obtain the remaining doses. No matter how long ago the initial doses were administered, according to health officials.
An explanation of the transmission of the poliovirus.
Polio is contagious when the virus is swallowed, usually from a person who has been infected through contact with their feces. Because over 70% of infected people exhibit no symptoms, the virus is able to propagate largely undetected. About one-quarter of infected people get minor symptoms akin to the flu.
Severe illness, such as irreversible paralysis, affects about 1 in 100 affected people. There is a fatality rate of 2% to 10% among polio patients due to paralysis of the breathing muscles.
It is believed that someone who had previously gotten the oral polio vaccine overseas was the source of the chain of transmission that brought polio to New York. The virus used in the oral vaccine is a weakened variant that can still multiply. Vaccine viruses occasionally undergo mutations that make them more dangerous and infectious.
More than two decades have passed since the United States last used an oral vaccination. The inactivated vaccination is injected into the patient and prevents the virus from replicating and evolving. Disease prevention from this vaccination is excellent, but it does not prevent the spread of the virus.
Natural poliovirus transmission can be stopped by the oral polio vaccination, but there is a chance that the vaccine strain will mutate into a more dangerous form, leading to the spread of what is known as vaccine-derived poliovirus.