NewsDesk @bactiman63

Today, because of a poliovirus case reported in Rockland County in July and genetically related polioviruses being detected in wastewater samples collected in Orange, Rockland, and Sullivan counties in April, May, June, July, and August 2022,  New York Governor Kathy Hochul  issued an Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a State Disaster Emergency.

The State Disaster Emergency will increase the availability of resources to protect New Yorkers against the paralytic disease.

Bolstering the immunization drive, the E.O. immediately expands the network of polio vaccine administrators with the addition of EMS workers, midwives, and pharmacists and authorizes physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient specific standing orders for polio vaccines. The E.O. also requires healthcare providers to send polio immunization data to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) through the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS), enabling NYSDOH and local health departments to focus vaccination activities where they are needed most and have yet another datapoint to understand the level of protection against polio in communities.

All New Yorkers who are unvaccinated, including children by 2 months of age, those who are pregnant, and people who have not completed their polio vaccine series previously, should get immunized right away. Unvaccinated New Yorkers or those not up to date with immunizations who live, work, go to school in, or visit Rockland County, Orange County, New York City, Sullivan County, and Nassau County are at the highest risk of contracting paralytic disease.

The inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), the only vaccine available in the United States, is safe, and contains no live virus. It protects 99 – 100 percent of people who get all recommended doses. In accordance with CDC, the polio immunization schedule by age is as follows:

  • All children should get 4 doses of the polio vaccine. The first dose should be 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 starting the polio immunization series after 4 years of age who are unvaccinated or are unsure if they have been immunized should receive a total of 3 doses.
  • 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.
  • In addition, adults who live or work in the areas where poliovirus has been detected (Rockland County, Orange County, New York City, Sullivan County, and Nassau County) and don’t believe they are vaccinated should get vaccinated.

Pakistan reports two more children with polio, Total cases now 17

At this time, the following New Yorkers who have previously completed their polio vaccine series should receive one lifetime booster dose of IPV:

  • Individuals who will or might have close contact with a person known or suspected to be infected with poliovirus or such person’s household members or other close contacts.
  • Healthcare providers working in areas where poliovirus has been detected (Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, New York City, or Nassau County) who might handle specimens that might contain polioviruses or who treat patients who might have polio (e.g., urgent care, emergency department, neurology, virology laboratory workers).
  • Individuals with occupational exposure to wastewater can consider a booster.

Polio is a dangerous, debilitating, and life-threatening disease. Spread from person-to-person, poliovirus enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected individual. People can spread the virus even if they do not know they are sick, and asymptomatic spread is a high concern among health officials. According to CDC, 70 percent of people infected with polio experience no symptoms. About 25 percent experience mild or flu-like symptoms that may be mistaken for many other illnesses. About 1 in 100 individuals will develop severe disease, including permanent paralysis. Of those paralyzed, 2-10 percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. Based on evidence from earlier polio outbreaks, health officials estimate that for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected.

There is no cure for polio, but it is preventable through safe and effective vaccination.