The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday that the United States, one of the richest and most industrialized nations in the world, has satisfied the requirements of the World Health Organization to be recognized as a country with circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus.
The United States has now joined a group of about 30 other polio outbreak nations, most of which are low- and middle-income nations, such as Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, and Yemen. Notably, there are only two other high-income nations on the list—Israel and the United Kingdom—that have identified the presence of a poliovirus strain that is genetically related to the one that is spreading in the US.
By documenting a patient with vaccine-derived poliovirus and having at least one environmental sample of the virus, the US specifically fulfills the requirements for the WHO’s list. Health officials in Rockland County, New York, reported a case of paralytic polio in a person who was unvaccinated and had not recently traveled in July. Since then, the CDC and the authorities in New York have monitored the virus’s spread in wastewater, discovering 57 positive samples from four New York counties and New York City. The positive tests were taken between April and a more recent sampling in August.
The vast majority of people in the US have received polio vaccinations, providing them with excellent protection from hazardous diseases. By the age of 24 months, children should receive three doses of the inactivated polio vaccine. A fourth dose should be administered between the ages of 4 and 6 years.
However, vaccination rates have been declining recently, and startlingly low vaccination rates can be found in isolated areas of some states and counties. For instance, the immunization percentage for 2-year-olds in Rockland County, which is located immediately northeast of New York City, was 67 percent in 2020 but is now 60 percent. And based on vaccination data at the zip-code level, one region in Rockland County had a vaccination percentage as low as 37%, with a few others in the 50% range.