FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2022
Contact: Beth Cefalu, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512
NEW CITY, NY – County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert advise residents of the continued spread of polio in Rockland County and encourage residents who are unvaccinated, have not completed the polio vaccination series, or are at high risk for contracting polio even if they have completed the primary series to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Anyone unsure of their polio immunization history is eligible to receive a vaccination.
Polio is a virus that spreads from person to person through infected feces (can be microscopic) that enters the body through the mouth. Polio can also be spread through contact with contaminated bodies of water. Respiratory transmission and oral to oral transmission through saliva may also account for some cases.
Approximately 75% of people infected with polio have no visible symptoms, yet they can still spread the virus. About 25% have mild symptoms of polio including fever, muscle weakness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, polio can infect a person’s brain and spinal cord, causing permanent paralysis (cannot move parts of the body) or even death. Between 2 and 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from polio die because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe. Even people who seem to fully recover can develop new muscle pain, weakness, or paralysis 15 to 40 years later. This is called post-polio syndrome. If you develop any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately: sudden weakness in your arms or legs, loss of muscle tone and reflexes, facial droop/weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, drooping eyelids, or difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.
Due to the vaccine’s success, which was introduced in 1955, and a national vaccination program, polio cases were cut dramatically in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with the last naturally occurring polio cases in the United States in 1979.
As the polio vaccine continues to be included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) standard child immunization schedule, those already vaccinated are not considered at significant risk. Since 2000, only the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) has been given in the United States. IPV is given by a shot in the arm or leg, depending on the person’s age, and is very effective in ensuring protection. IPV is not a live virus vaccine, so there is NO RISK of getting polio disease from the IPV.
Free upcoming polio immunization clinics:
- Wednesday, August 17th from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm 14 S. Main Street in Spring Valley (2nd Floor – elevator available). Pre-register Here
- Wednesday, August 24th from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley. Pre-register Here
- Thursday, August 25th from 8:30 am – 11:30 am Rockland County Department of Health 50 Sanatorium Road Building A in Pomona. Pre-register Here
Rockland residents can pre-register for a free appointment; however, no appointment is needed. For help making an appointment, call: 845-238-1956. For more information, visit the county’s health department webpage at https://bit.ly/RCDOHPOLIO.
For a list of additional providers offering free polio vaccines, click here. You can also contact your health care provider for more information.
“The Rockland County Department of Health is working with our local health care providers and community leaders to educate the community and make polio vaccine available for our residents. One case of paralytic polio is too many. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and respond to this emergent public health issue to protect the health and wellbeing of county residents,” said Dr. Ruppert.
For more information and printable materials, visit: The Rockland County Department of health at: https://bit.ly/RCDOHPOLIO, or visit the New York State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.