New York declared a state of emergency over polio in an effort to boost vaccination rates after evidence of the virus’s spread mounted when it was found in wastewater samples in Nassau County on Long Island.
The executive order, signed Friday by Governor Kathy Hochul, expands the network of vaccine administrators to include emergency medical workers, midwives and pharmacists. Physicians and certified nurse practitioners will be able to issue non-patient-specific standing orders for the polio vaccine, the New York Department of Health said in a statement.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”
New Yorkers who already have completed their polio vaccine series should receive a lifetime booster after coming in close contact with a person suspected to be infected by the virus, the department said.
The department also recommends boosters for health-care workers in Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, Nassau County and New York City who might handle specimens containing polioviruses or who treat patients who may have polio. People with occupational exposure to wastewater “can consider a booster.”