NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett
Andy Katz | Pacific Press | Light rocket | Getty Images
Polio has been diagnosed in New York City, indicating a local spread of the virus, health officials said Friday.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett called the findings alarming. Bassett said local and federal health officials are aggressively assessing how far polio has spread in the city and upstate New York.
“For every identified case of paralytic polio, hundreds more may go undetected,” Bassett said. “The best way to keep adults and children polio free is through safe and effective immunization.”
Polio can in some cases lead to permanent paralysis of the arms and legs and death. Health officials are calling on people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated immediately.
Routine childhood vaccinations have declined in New York City since 2019, which has increased the risk of outbreaks, according to health officials. About 14% of children in New York City between the ages of 6 months and 5 years have not completed their polio vaccination course, meaning they are not fully protected against the virus.
Overall, 86% of children ages 5 and under in New York City have been fully vaccinated against polio, according to health officials. But there are some neighborhoods in the city where less than 70% of children in this age group are up to date on their vaccinations, putting children in these communities at risk of contracting polio.
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