New York officials have upped their efforts to combat polio.
On Friday, state Gov. Kathy Hochu declared a state of emergency over the poliovirus outbreak. She announced the move after the virus was detected in wastewater samples collected in five different regions: Rockland County; Orange County; Sullivan County; New York City; and, most recently, Nassau County.
The declaration allows more health care workers, including nurses, midwives, paramedics, and pharmacists, to administer polio vaccines across the state—particularly in areas where vaccination rates have declined. It also requires healthcare providers to provide immunization data to aid the state Department of Health,
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. “I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all. Polio immunization is safe and effective — protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses.”
According to CNBC, state health officials are aiming to achieve a statewide vaccination rate of 90 percent. As of now, the rates are 60 percent in Rockland 58 percent in Orange, 62 percent in Sullivan, and 79 percent in Nassau. The department says all children should get four doses of the polio vaccine: the first between the ages of 6 weeks and 2 months; the second at 4 months, a third at 6-18 months, and the fourth between the ages of 4 and 6. Those who had occupational exposure to the contaminated wastewater “can consider a booster.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 1 in 100 polio infections will result in severe disease, including potentially fatal paralysis.
Hochul’s declaration comes less than two months after New York reported the nation’s first polio case in nearly a decade. The patient is said to be an unvaccinated man in his 20s. Officials have not confirmed any additional cases.