Three counties in New York, including New York City, have recently had poliovirus detected in their wastewater. Officials in Rockland County have confirmed one case of paralytic polio in an unvaccinated adult, indicating that the virus is likely circulating undetected in the area.
On Friday, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett warned that for every case of paralytic polio that is discovered, hundreds more may go undetected.
All 50 states and DC mandate polio vaccinations for kindergartners, with some exceptions made for children with medical or, in some cases, philosophical exemptions.
Between the ages of 2 months and 6 years, the CDC advises receiving four doses at evenly spaced intervals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 99% of vaccinated children were protected from severe disease.
According to the CDC, by the 2020-2021 school year, nearly all American kindergarteners would have received all four doses. Vaccination rates in Louisiana and Mississippi were both above 98%. While these numbers were high, they were much lower elsewhere in the country, with the District of Columbia, Idaho, and Wisconsin all recording rates of around 80%.
According to the New York State Department of Health, only 60% of children in Rockland County, where the state’s polio case was discovered, have received all three doses by the age of 2. Nearly 79% is the statewide average.
A small decline in kindergarten vaccination coverage was seen across the country in 2020–2021.
The polio vaccination rate among kindergarteners in the 2019-2020 school year was 95%. In a similar vein, 95 percent had been immunized against common childhood diseases. This percentage also declined slightly, to 94%, during the 2020-2021 school year, in line with the polio vaccination rate.
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