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New York County officials who confirmed first case of polio have been urging residents for nearly a decade to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.
The official, a resident of Rockland County, is unvaccinated adultbut they did not detail the person’s condition.
Speaking at a press conference, Rockland County Executive Ed Day said that a person who has tested positive for polio is no longer contagious. He said officials are currently focused on getting vaccinated and finding out if anyone else has been affected.
Vaccines have been available since 1955, and the national vaccination campaign reduced the annual number of U.S. cases to less than 100 in the 1960s and less than 10 in the 1970s, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 1979, polio eradication was declared in the United States, which meant there was no more routine transmission. Rarely have travelers with polio brought the infection into the United States, the last such case occurred in 2013.
Day said the reason polio hadn’t been seen for so many years was the widespread availability of “safe and effective vaccines” that had reduced the incidence of polio from nearly 400,000 cases in the 1980s to just 42 cases worldwide in 2016. year.
Most people who contract polio have symptoms, such as the person who contracted it in Rockland County. But in severe cases, it can cause severe paralysis, Day said.
“Although the pandemic is in decline, its effects are still being felt,” Day said, before quoting a UNICEF report on the sharp drop in childhood vaccinations worldwide.
“Many of you may be too young to remember polio, but when I was growing up, this disease instilled fear in families, including my own,” Day said. “My father was a World War II veteran. The mere mention of polio anywhere in the house would make it ash white. “But then again, how effective can vaccinations be?”
Day urged schools to be more proactive in ensuring that students are vaccinated to prevent the spread of other diseases.
“Do the right thing for your child and for the greater good of your community and get your child vaccinated right now,” Day said.
Julia Musto of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.