New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency over polio to boost vaccination rates in the state amid further evidence that the virus is spreading in communities.
Poliovirus has now been detected in sewage samples from four counties in the New York metropolitan area as well as the city itself. The counties include Rockland, Orange, Sullivan and now Nassau.
The samples tested positive for types of poliovirus that can cause paralysis in humans, according to state health officials.
New York began wastewater surveillance after an unvaccinated adult caught polio in Rockland County in July and suffered from paralysis, the first known infection in the U.S. in nearly a decade.
The emergency declaration will expand the network of vaccine administrators to include pharmacists, midwives and EMS workers in an effort to boost the immunization rate in areas where it has slipped.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett called on people who are unvaccinated to get their shots as soon as possible. Individuals and families who are unsure of their vaccination status should contact a health-care provider, clinic or the county health department to make sure they are up to date on their shots.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” Bassett said. “I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all. Polio immunization is safe and effective – protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses.”
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