New York governor Kathy Hochul has declared a state of emergency in order to boost polio vaccination rates across the state.
According to health officials, sewage samples in New York City and four adjacent counties tested positive for a poliovirus.
The emergency order was issued last Friday and empowers emergency medical workers, midwives and pharmacists to join the network of providers who can roll out polio vaccinations.
BBC reports: Polio was largely eradicated from the US by vaccinations that began in 1955.
By 1979, the US was declared polio-free.
But according to New York officials, vaccination rates are too low in parts of the state. Friday’s emergency declaration is aimed at boosting flagging immunisation rates.
There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented by the vaccine. Mostly affecting children, the virus typically causes muscle weakness and paralysis, and in the most serious cases permanent disability and death.
New York’s state health department said it aims to boost vaccination rates from the current state-wide average of about 79% to above 90%.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” Health Commissioner Dr Mary Bassett said in a statement. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real.”
She added that “for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected”.
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