Poliovirus Found in New York City Wastewater : What Parents Need to Know

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Poliovirus was found in garbage in New York City

On the subject of how many viruses can we all worry about at once, The New York State Department of Health and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported Friday that poliovirus was found in New York City garbage samples.

This suggests that there is a possibility of virus circulation within the boroughs.

The discovery comes after the identification of a case of paralytic polio in a Rockland County resident on July 21, and the detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples collected from Rockland and Orange Counties in May, June and July. .

“For every single case of paralytic polio known, hundreds more may go undetected,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, NYS health commissioner. “The detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples in New York City is alarming, but not surprising. Already, the state health department – working with local and federal partners – responded quickly, continued the investigation of the case and spread is aggressively checked. The best way to keep adults and children polio-free is safe and effective vaccination – New Yorkers’ greatest protection against the worst consequences of polio, including permanent paralysis and even death.”

What Parents Can Do About Polio

Agencies urge parents to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases.

“The risk of New Yorkers is real but the defense is very simple – get vaccinated against polio,” said Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the city health commissioner. “With polio circulating in our communities there is nothing more important than vaccinating our children to protect them from this virus, and if you are an unvaccinated or incompletely immunized adult, please choose now to get the vaccine. Polio is completely preventable and its return should be a call to action for all of us.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get four doses of the polio vaccine. They should get a dose at each of the following ages: 2 months old, 4 months old, 6 to 18 months old, and 4 to 6 years old.

But vaccine coverage for regularly recommended vaccines has fallen among New York City children since 2019, the city reports. Only 86.2% of NYC children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years have received three doses of the polio vaccine, with nearly 14% remaining incompletely protected.

Counties located near New York City have lower polio vaccination rates.

As of August 1, 2022, Rockland County will have a polio vaccination rate of 60.34 percent and Orange County had a polio vaccination rate of 58.68 percent, compared to the statewide average of 78.96 percent, among children who received three polio immunizations before their second birthday.

Many people infected with poliovirus have no visible symptoms, according to the CDC. But about 1 in 4 people with the infection have flu-like symptoms that last about 2-5 days, and then go away.

Most adults do not need the polio vaccine because they were vaccinated as children. New Yorkers who are new to vaccinations should talk to their health care provider to schedule an appointment for vaccination, the city said.

People without a provider can call 311 or 844-NYC-4NYC (844-692-4692) for help finding one. Care is provided in New York City regardless of immigration status, insurance or ability to pay.

Where to Get Free or Low-Cost Vaccines for Children 4 and Over

Children ages 4 and older can get low-cost or free vaccines at the NYC Health Department’s Fort Greene Health Center at 295 Flatbush Ave. Ext., Fifth Floor, from Monday-Friday, 8:30am-2:30pm. To make an appointment, visit nyc.gov and search for the vaccination clinic.

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