Polio case in US highlights importance of routine vaccination

The CDC has announced the second-ever polio case to occur in the United States since the disease was declared eradicated in the country in 1979. However, it’s important to note that this polio case might have been prevented by the vaccine.

The polio case was reported in an unvaccinated young man in Rockland County, New York, according to the CDC. He experienced paralysis.

According to Reuters, the viral version was genetically related to those recently found in New York, London, and Jerusalem wastewater.

With the exception of Afghanistan and Pakistan, “wild poliovirus” has virtually been eradicated. However, the so-called “vaccine-derived” virus, which is reportedly the cause of these new cases, “stems from the use of an oral polio vaccine containing a weakened live virus,” a type of treatment that is not administered in the United States, according to Reuters.

“After children are vaccinated, they shed virus in their feces for a few weeks. In under-vaccinated communities, this can then spread and mutate back to a harmful version of the virus,” explains Reuters.

The US does not use the oral vaccine, instead using the inactivated polio vaccine. However, other countries still use the oral vaccine.

Health officials in New York City warned that those who have not had the vaccine are at risk, citing three positive wastewater test results from June and July as proof of “likely local virus circulation.”

“The risk to New Yorkers is real but the defense is so simple—get vaccinated against polio,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan.

According to Reuters, experts concur that the absence of vaccination is what is causing the poliovirus to reemerge. However, according to WHO and UNICEF, COVID-19 caused the biggest fall in childhood immunizations in three decades, including in the United States.

It’s more crucial than ever to catch up on routine vaccinations when kids return to school and polio is back in the country.

Vaccinate Your Family urges you to catch up on routine vaccinations

“Before vaccines, there were more than 500,000 cases of measles reported every year in the U.S. In 2020, there were 13. Let’s keep it that way,” says Vaccinate Your Family.

We have the power to protect children from dangerous diseases. Do your part by making sure your family is up to date on recommended vaccines – learn more.

Learn more about National Immunization Awareness Month.

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