A case of poliovirus with acute flaccid paralysis was confirmed in an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County, New York last month.
The Rockland County case is a case of vaccine-derived poliovirus, the first in the U.S. since 2013. Vaccine-derived poliovirus is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was included in oral polio vaccine and that has continued to replicate and change over time so it behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus. Vaccine-derived poliovirus emerges in populations with low vaccination coverage and affects people who are unvaccinated.
New York City health officials report although no cases of polio have been reported in New York City (NYC), testing of sewersheds in NYC indicate presence of polioviruses in the city.
This has prompted calls to for pediatric vaccinations as have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, leaving many children at risk of vaccine preventable diseases.
The U.S. uses the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) only, an inactivated vaccine that cannot cause polio or paralysis. In NYC, IPV coverage for children ages 0 to 59 months with at least one dose is 93.3%, and 86.2% of children 6 to 59 months have three or more doses. Coverage with three doses of IPV among children ages 6 to 59 months varies by neighborhood and there are areas where coverage is low. It is critical that all, unvaccinated children receive IPV vaccine immediately to decrease their risk of polio.
IPV is the best way for New Yorkers to protect themselves and their children against poliovirus. IPV is a required vaccine for daycare and school attendance. The four-dose IPV series should be administered at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years (this last dose is required for kindergarten entry). Additional information on intervals and catch-up schedules can be found here. IPV can be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Most adults do not need polio vaccine because they were already vaccinated as children. Vaccine has been available in the U.S. since 1955. Adults born before then are also likely to be protected from having been exposed to poliovirus before vaccine was available.