Polio concerns grow in New York over new CDC report

NY state health officials issued an urgent call for unvaccinated children, adults to get vaccinated against polio

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
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The CDC is now revealing that the polio virus was detected in New York earlier than previously thought. Marcus Solis has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The CDC is now revealing that the polio virus was detected in New York earlier than previously thought.

The most recent polio case was reported in June, but a new CDC study says it had been circulating in New York since at least April.

That's according to an analysis of wastewater samples in New York City and surrounding counties, including Orange and Rockland.

The findings also reveal the same strain that is causing the outbreak here was detected in Israel in March.

"The risk of polio is very real, but so are the solutions," Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. "And so the solutions are incredibly simple, which is to get vaccinated."

Communities with low vaccination rates are at highest risk, including Battery City in Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where more than 40% of children remain unvaccinated.

Williamsburg City Councilman Lincoln Restler says a Rockland County man who was diagnosed with polio in June was in his district.

"The reports are that the individual, who is suffering from paralysis and has polio, did come to Brooklyn while he was infectious," Restler said. "So there is a connection in that...in this specific case. But polio is a disease, is a virus, that affects all of us."

Rockland County officials say they are renewing efforts to get more people vaccinated, but the CDC says a recent modest uptick in vaccination rates has simply not been enough to mitigate the risk.

"This is a very, very serious disease," Governor Kathy Hochul said. "And we want to make sure that we take all the steps you can at this time and sound the alarm right now."

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Experts say inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), which is the only polio immunization that has been given in the United States since 2000, protects 99% of children who get all the recommended doses.

The most important way for children and adults to protect themselves from polio is to get vaccinated right away if they have not received all recommended polio vaccine doses.

Health officials have increased communication to healthcare providers, stressing the importance of the on-time administration of the polio vaccine among their patients.

In accordance with CDC:

--All children should get four doses of the polio vaccine, with the first dose given at 6 weeks through 2 months of age, followed by one dose given at 4 months of age, 6 through 18 months old, and 4 through 6 years old

--People who are unvaccinated or are unsure if they have been immunized should receive a total of 3 doses if starting the vaccine series after age 4

--Adults who have only had 1 or 2 doses of the polio vaccine in the past should get the remaining 1 or 2 doses - it does not matter how long it has been since the earlier doses

Most adults do not need polio vaccine because they were already vaccinated as children.

New Yorkers who are not up-to-date with vaccination should speak to their health care provider or their child's provider to schedule an appointment for vaccination.

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