New York Governor Declares Polio a State Disaster Emergency

The executive order increases resources to help boost immunization efforts

Polio is now considered an official disaster in New York state after Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an executive order on Friday, following the discovery of the virus that causes polio in the wastewater of yet another county, according to state health officials. The order increases additional resources to help boost immunization efforts against the paralytic disease, the officials said.

A sewage sample from Nassau County collected in August tested positive for poliovirus, following the prior detection of the virus in wastewater samples in Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County and New York City, further indicating that the virus is spreading in the area to some degree.

The Nassau County sample was also genetically linked to the single confirmed case of paralytic polio that had been identified this summer in a young adult resident in Rockland County who was unvaccinated.

The executive order issued expands the network of providers able to administer polio vaccinations to include emergency-medical-services workers, midwives and pharmacists. It also requires that providers send polio-immunization data to the New York State Department of Health to help health officials better focus vaccination efforts on areas of low uptake.

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York State Health Commissioner. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”


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