New York State Department of Health Updates New Yorkers On Polio

Less Virus Detected in Sewage, Coinciding with Expiration of State's Executive Order

Ongoing Detection Efforts and Long-Term Strategies Remain Key to Protecting New Yorkers Against Paralytic Disease and Vaccine-Preventable Illnesses

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 12, 2022) – The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) today updated New Yorkers on polio and the status of its response efforts. On its website, NYSDOH details the latest findings, including less detection of polio in wastewater samples from counties of concern.

"From the start, the State Department of Health – together with our partners at national and local levels – launched a focused, urgent response to protect New Yorkers against polio," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "That work – including enhanced clinical surveillance, nation-leading wastewater surveillance, and driving vaccinations in affected areas – is ongoing and will continue. Thanks to collaboration with CDC, local health departments, trusted health care providers, and community-based organizations, we have made progress – but the work to increase immunization rates and protect children from paralytic disease and other vaccine-preventable illnesses is ongoing. We are unwavering in our commitment to keep up efforts to build out long-term vaccination strategies."

Because of the hard work of health officials and providers, since July, over 46,718 polio vaccine doses have been administered to children 18 years and younger in Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Nassau counties and 86 percent of these immunizations have been administered as combination vaccines to those in Rockland and Orange counties. Nevertheless, vaccination uptick in these affected areas remain too low, warranting ongoing State action.

With the number of positive wastewater samples declining over time, the emergency order was no longer necessary. However, early detection efforts – including nation-leading wastewater surveillance – will remain in place, as will partnerships with national and local health authorities, providers on the ground, and trusted community organizations to conduct surveillance, expand education, and build long-term strategies focused on increasing community capacity and driving immunizations.

All of these efforts remain core to protecting New Yorkers against the unprecedented threat of paralytic disease and other vaccine-preventable illnesses. Health officials also note that historically, polio circulation – similar to the spread of other enteroviruses – can be seasonal, with a slow-down or disappearance in winter and a reappearance in warmer months, underscoring the importance of NYSDOH continuing its close monitoring and ongoing surveillance activities.

In July, NYSDOH and Rockland County announced that the State's Wadsworth Center had identified a case of paralytic polio among a Rockland County resident. NYSDOH immediately mounted a robust response that included enhanced clinical surveillance, powering wastewater surveillance in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – the first in the nation to adapt its wastewater network for these purposes – and collaborated with local health departments, health care providers, and trusted community partners to educate the public about the threat of polio and increase immunization rates, particularly among children and in counties of concern.

Today and every day, NYSDOH reminds New Yorkers that vaccines – whether newly created and rigorously tested for emergent viruses, like COVID-19, or those long and well-established, like for polio – are safe, effective, and the most fundamental protection parents and guardians can provide children to keep them healthy and safe.

New Yorkers can learn more about polio at the dedicated website here, which will continue to be updated with the latest wastewater surveillance results here.

NYSDOH officials will continue to share their learnings in responding to this extraordinary public health emergency and offer counsel to other states and entities.