What to know
- New York has one confirmed case of polio, but health officials say sewage monitoring indicates hundreds of people may be infected. The US hasn’t seen a naturally occurring case of polio since 1979
- Since 2000, only one vaccine has been used in the US: the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV); two doses provide 90% immunity against all three types of poliovirus, while three doses provide at least 99% immunity, the CDC says
- The Rockland County patient had a polio strain derived from a live vaccine allegedly administered outside of the United States, and now the community appears to be spreading locally in unvaccinated communities
New York health officials are sounding the alarm about another deadly viral threat — one that was eradicated in the United States more than 40 years ago and now appears to be spreading in the community. Two weeks after reporting its first polio case in nearly a decade, the state says “hundreds” of people may be infected with the once-dreaded childhood virus.
With the word “vaccination” entrenched in our collective vanguard amid the COVID pandemic and now the monkeypox outbreak, many are trying to ensure they are protected from this latest seemingly renewed scourge.
So far, there has been only one confirmed case of the polio virus in New York — it was in an unvaccinated patient from Rockland County with no recent history of travel outside the country, officials said. But now wastewater samples are detecting polio elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, and CDC data links the New York samples to recent environmental testing in both Israel and England.
While most Americans have been vaccinated against polio, experts say the case should serve as a wake-up call for those who aren’t.
Although the Rockland patient had not been vaccinated, the patient had a vaccine-derived strain of polio, possibly contracted from someone who had received a live or oral polio vaccine (OPV). The United States has stopped administering it since 2000 and uses only the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), which is recommended by the CDC.
‘This is not normal. We don’t want to see this,” Jennifer Nuzzo, a pandemic researcher at Brown University, recently told the Associated Press about the New York case. “If you’ve been vaccinated, you don’t have to worry about that. But if you haven’t had your kids vaccinated, it’s very important that you make sure they are up to date.”
So what do you need to know about the schedule? Here’s what the CDC says for American children and adults.
CDC Polio Vaccine Guidance
All US children should receive four total IPV doses. One dose should be administered at each of the following ages or within the range: 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, 4-6 years. Children traveling to a country where the risk of polio is higher than here should be fully vaccinated before leaving. The CDC has alternative options if there is not enough time.
Most adults do not need a polio vaccine because they had it as a child. But the CDC says some adults are at higher risk — those who travel to high-risk areas, work in labs and handle samples that may contain polio viruses, and health professionals who treat patients who may have polio or have close contacts with those infected.
Adults in appropriate situations should receive three doses of IPV, the CDC says. Adults at risk of exposure who have already completed their routine polio vaccination series can receive one lifetime booster dose of IPV, according to the CDC.
The IPV used in the United States since 1987 is as effective as OPV for preventing polio, the CDC says. Two doses of IPV provide 90% immunity against all three types of poliovirus, while three doses provide at least 99% immunity, the agency says.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the county was now working to vaccinate people and see if there were any other cases.