On the morning of September 9, 2022, I had a meeting with New York State Department of Health officials where I was notified that poliovirus has been detected in wastewater coming from the Port Washington peninsula in Nassau County, suggesting local circulation of the virus. This discovery follows similar news recently in New York City and several upstate counties.
It's important to note that there are no identified cases in our community, but these results do suggest community spread. At this time, the only identified case of polio in New York State is in an unvaccinated resident of Rockland County.
What is polio?
Polio is a serious and life threatening disease that can affect the nervous system and lead to paralysis or death in serious cases. There is no cure for polio, but it is preventable through safe and effective vaccination.
What should I do to protect myself or my family?
All New Yorkers who are unvaccinated, including children 2 months of age, those who are pregnant, and people who have not completed their polio vaccine series previously, should get immunized right away.
In limited circumstances, some New Yorkers who have previously completed their polio vaccine series should receive one lifetime booster dose of the vaccine, particularly those who may have had close contact with someone who may be infected, some healthcare workers, those with occupational exposure to wastewater, and some people with compromised immune systems. There is no blanket guidance for who might need a booster, so if you think you may be at risk, you should contact your doctor and have a conversation about it.
Is the polio vaccine safe and effective?
Yes! The inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) is safe and effective, and has protected millions of New Yorkers against polio for over 22 years. Learn more about it here.
Where can I learn more about polio, including symptoms and how it's spread?
The New York State Department of Health has a microsite with more information about polio that you can access by clicking here.
What is the State doing to protect people from polio?
The State Health Department is working with the Nassau County Health Department, the CDC, local leaders, and community partners to encourage anyone in the county who is not vaccinated, or not up to date with their vaccinations, to get all recommended doses. We need everyone's help to increase the vaccination rate to protect everyone in our community.
Where can I get a vaccination for myself or my family?
If you or your family are not yet vaccinated, talk to your doctor. If you do not have a primary care physician, Long Island FQHC offers comprehensive health care services across Nassau County regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Click here for more information.
As always, I'm here for you.
We're living through unprecedented times, but no matter what, you can always reach out to my office for assistance with anything. I can be reached at 516-746-5924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.