New York state health officials on Thursday announced the first known case of polio in the United States since 2013 has been confirmed in a Rockland County resident.
Health officials at the state and county level are advising medical practitioners and health care providers to be on the watch for additional cases.
Testing by state health officials has suggested the polio case may have originated outside of the United States.
The polio vaccine is a standard on the child immunization schedule, and those vaccinated for polio are at lower risk for the disease. But people who are not vaccinated or completed the vaccination series, especially pregnant women, are at a higher risk, health officials said.
“Based on what we know about this case, and polio in general, the Department of Health strongly recommends that unvaccinated individuals get vaccinated or boosted with the FDA-approved IPV polio vaccine as soon as possible,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. “The polio vaccine is safe and effective, protecting against this potentially debilitating disease, and it has been part of the backbone of required, routine childhood immunizations recommended by health officials and public health agencies nationwide.”
Rockland County will host a polio vaccination clinic starting Friday, July 22 at 50 Sanatorium Road in Pomona from 10 a.m. to noon. A second clinic at the same location will be held on Monday, July 25 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing up, this disease struck fear in families, including my own,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said. “The fact that it is still around decades after the vaccine was created shows you just how relentless it is. Do the right thing for your child and the greater good of your community and have your child vaccinated now.”
The polio vaccine was introduced in 1955 and as a result of a national vaccination program the number of cases were cut dramatically as result. The last naturally occuring cases of polio in the United States was in 1979. The last known case of polio was recorded in this country nine years ago.