New York Declares State Disaster Emergency for Polio

New York Declares State Disaster Emergency for Polio
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Kathy Hochul, the Governor of New York, has declared a “state disaster emergency” for Polio after poliovirus was detected in wastewater which suggests that this terrifying virus is still spreading, most likely in areas with low vaccination rates.
The emergency declaration aims to increase easy access to vaccines in all the state, allowing for more health care providers to administer polio vaccines.
Not only that but it also makes it a requirement for health care providers to also report vaccination data to the state which lets officials identify the vulnerable areas better.
Back in July, officials also reported paralytic polio in an adult Rockland County local who was not vaccinated.
The citizen experienced symptoms of polio in June for the first time and as of September 9, the CDC has identified the dangerous virus in no less than 57 wastewater samples from 4 different counties – Orange, Sullivan, Rockland and Nassau – as well as New York City, where the earliest detection happened back in April.
Spreading the virus continues to be concerning in spite of vaccination and awareness campaigns.
Out of the 57 positive samples, 50 are directly linked to the polio case in Rockland.
As you can imagine, the vaccination rates in all of these affected counties are not the best.
Rockland County is actually well known for the low vaccination rates it usually registers regardless of the type of vaccine.
In 2019, the region struggled with a measles outbreak as well and when it comes to polio, the vaccination rate is of only around 60 percent among children under the age of 2, who are supposed to have 3 doses of the vaccine by that age.
Orange and Sullivan aren’t any better, registering 57 and 62 percent, respectively.
Out of the four affected counties, Nassau is doing the best in this regard, registering a vaccination rate of 79 percent, which is actually equal to the statewide average, hence why they’ve only registered one case.
However, these averages might mask pockets of vaccination that is even lower!
For instance, in Orange, there are two zip codes where vaccination rates are of only 31 and 41 percent, respectively, which is truly concerning.
Rockland also has a zip code with a vaccination rate of 37 percent.
With that being said, the health department is seeking to get the vaccination rates to over 90 percent.
Dr. Mary Bassett, the New York State Health Commissioner released a statement that says: “On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice. If you or your kid are unvaccinated or not up to date with your vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge all New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”


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Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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