ROCKLAND COUNTY, NY – August 26, 2022 – In July, a case of paralytic polio was detected in Rockland County, New York, north of New York City. The person was unvaccinated and exposed to someone who had received the oral polio vaccine. This is the first case of polio originating in the U.S. since 1979. Dr. José Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN “I think most of the American public has never seen a case of polio. People have lost that fear, if you will, of the disease.”
On August 12th, New York City health authorities said that the polio virus has been identified in wastewater samples since May. The polio virus has also been detected in wastewater samples in Rockland County and Orange County, N.J., both near New York City. Detection of polio virus in the wastewater may indicate future cases of polio in New York City or the immediate vicinity. There “must be several hundred cases in the community circulating,” a senior official with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN earlier this month.
In New York City, the rate of polio vaccination among children 5 years and under is 86%, lower than the national rate of 93%. Vaccination rates in neighboring Rockland County and Orange County are about 60%. Vaccination rates in New York City have fallen because regular doctor visits were postponed during the COVID crisis and from vaccine misinformation that became more prevalent during the COVID pandemic. Some small ethnic & religious groups have not vaccinated their children, like the ultraorthodox Jewish community in Rockland County where this recent case was identified.
“The risk to New Yorkers is real but the defense is so simple — get vaccinated against polio,” Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the New York City health commissioner, said in a statement. “With polio circulating in our communities, there is simply nothing more essential than vaccinating our children to protect them from this virus, and if you’re an unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated adult, please choose now to get the vaccine.”
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Contact: Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com