New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency as polio continues to spread in the state. Hochul made the declaration on Friday (Sept. 9) in hopes of boosting vaccination rates.
The state confirmed its first polio case in late July. The unvaccinated adult suffered paralysis a month after exhibiting symptoms. Health officials have since detected poliovirus in samples of sewage water in New York City and in Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Nassau counties. People who live, work, or attend school in those areas are said to be at the highest risk of contracting the disease.
Hochul’s executive order now allows pharmacists, midwives, and EMS workers to administer the vaccine. It also requires healthcare providers to turn over polio vaccination data to the state department of health.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. She added, “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.”
As previously reported by REVOLT, in 1979, the U.S. classified the disease as eliminated after developing the vaccine in 1959. On Friday, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman quieted concerns about there being a polio outbreak in the county.
“I don’t want to alarm anybody. There are no cases of polio that has been discovered here in this region or in Nassau County. Nobody should panic. There is no crisis right now. There is no active case of polio in Nassau County,” he said during a press conference.
According to WABC News, Rockland County has a polio vaccination rate of 60.34 percent; Orange County has a rate of 58.68 percent; Sullivan County has a rate of 62.33 percent; and Nassau County has a rate of 79.15 percent, compared to the statewide average of 78.96 percent.