NEW CITY – Last week the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) confirmed the presence of poliovirus in local wastewater for the first time since October. This single positive result was collected in February and has so far been followed by non-detections in wastewater samples, but unvaccinated residents should still act now to protect themselves.
Israel’s Ministry of Health also recently confirmed four children tested positive for poliovirus in Northern Israel. One unvaccinated child presented symptoms of paralysis while the other three children were asymptomatic. With increased travel expected between Rockland County and Israel over Passover, the County of Rockland reminds families there is a real risk of paralysis from the polio virus if you are unvaccinated.
Anyone who lives or travels to areas with increased risk of poliovirus should ensure they are adequately vaccinated. Adults who completed the polio vaccine series as children may receive a one-time booster dose of polio vaccine (IPV).
Polio traditionally hits seasonally, with large outbreaks typically surfacing during summer which is why the County remains focused on getting those unvaccinated or behind on their 4-dose polio vaccine series up to date, particularly infants and preschool-aged children, because transmission of this disease only continues if overall vaccination rates remain low.
“It is our obligation to protect all our residents from these debilitating and potentially fatal diseases. The law requiring childhood vaccinations has been in place for many years for this very reason,” said County Executive Ed Day. “I urge our residents to act now and protect yourselves, your family, and your community.”
“Polio is preventable through the complete vaccination series. Our hope is that we will not see another case of paralytic polio as we did last summer. I urge all who are unvaccinated or are under-vaccinated to complete their series. This is important locally as well as for travelers,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert.
As of this week 19,282 doses of the polio vaccine have been administered to Rockland County residents:
Age Group % of Total
0 to 4 78.2%
5 to 18 17.6%
19 to 64 2.4%
65 and up 1.8%
“While certainly the number of doses is strong, the polio vaccine is a series of 4-doses, so it takes time to reach full protection,” said County Executive Day. “As I’ve said before, this is why it is crucial for schools and the New York State Education Department to maintain and enforce these required vaccinations. But families with unvaccinated children who are not yet of school age completely lack protection from this dreaded disease and must get on schedule now.”
Rockland County Department of Health is actively working on strategies to increase vaccination rates in Rockland, including working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NYSDOH to perform daycare and school assessments and audits. RCDOH also started offering immunizations in the Spring Valley clinic and is working to ramp up a vaccination messaging campaign.
The Rockland County Department of Health is also offering the following free polio booster clinics at the Robert Yeager Health Center, 50 Sanatorium Road, Building A, in Pomona, New York. These clinics are only for those who have completed their polio vaccination series. These clinics are walk-in; no appointment is needed:
Friday, April 14, from 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Friday, April 28, from 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Any New York resident who needs the Inactivated Polio Vaccine can receive one by calling the Health Department at 845-364-2520 or 845-364-2524 to make an appointment at one of their regular Immunization Clinics.