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Governor Hochul declares state of emergency as polio detected in wastewater in NYC, 4 NY counties

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency this week to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated for polio as the virus has been detected in the wastewater in four New York counties and New York City in recent months.

The governor issued an Executive Order on Friday, officially expanding statewide access to polio vaccines and testing and allowing state funds to be funneled into efforts to suppress a polio outbreak in New York. According to the New York State Health Department, polio vaccination rates in some counties in the state are low.

Rockland County, where polio was first detected in New York wastewater over the summer, has only a 60.34 percent polio vaccination rate. The statewide average is 79 percent.

The NY Health Department issued an update on polio the same day the state of emergency was declared, warning New Yorkers to get up to date on their polio vaccinations if they are not already.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett urged, “On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice. 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. Polio immunization is safe and effective – protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses. Do not wait to vaccinate. If you are unsure of you or your families’ vaccination status, contact a healthcare provider, clinic, or local county health department to make sure you and your loved ones receive all recommended doses.”

Polio has been detected in the wastewater in Rockland, Orange, Sullivan and Nassau counties as well as New York City. One positive case in Rockland County was reported in late July. The individual who contracted the virus was unvaccinated and ended up partially paralyzed.

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