Americans have dealt with COVID-19 and Monkeypox, and now millions are fearing an outbreak of the polio virus as the first case in over a decade makes an appearance. Was it caused by the vaccine?
Vaccines and viruses have caused some of the biggest divides throughout the American population.
COVID-19 and Monkeypox have spread, despite people choosing to become vaccinated.
Those who opt to skip the vaccine are targeted by those in favor of the vaccine.
If the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020 wasn’t enough, America is now seeing polio thrown into the mix.
The U.S. sees its first polio case in ten years
The case of polio was found in Rockland County, New York last week.
No other residents have been identified with any cases of polio.
The case was caused by a live-virus polio vaccine, but that one is not available in the United States as a choice for vaccination, according to the Times Union.
The person identified to be infected with the virus traveled outside of the country while unvaccinated.
They were hospitalized with major symptoms including paralysis.
Around 95% of individuals do not normally experience symptoms, but they are still able to spread the virus.
The patient is a 20-year-old male belonging to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland county.
This community has resisted against vaccinations in the past, but leaders urge their members to get vaccinated.
Who is at risk of contracting polio?
Unvaccinated people or people that didn’t finish their series of polio vaccines are at highest risk of catching the virus.
Children typically receive the vaccine in a series of 4 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and finally between 4 and 6 years old.
After measles spread in Rockland County through the Jewish community, the state of New York ended their religious exemption for vaccines in children of school age.
Rockland County has the lowest vaccine rates in the state of New York.
The vaccine rate for Polio is currently ay 79.1%.
Rockland County’s is at 60.5%.
The polio virus is normally transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food that came into contact with fecal matter from and infected person.
It can also be transferred through spit and respiratory transmission.
Traces of polio have been found in many wastewater samples out of Rockland County and the Department of Health is looking into other samples in the state.
How did the polio vaccine cause someone to contract polio?
There are currently two types of polio vaccines that people take.
The first was created in 1955 and contains dead virus.
It’s given through injection and trains the immune system to fight polio should you encounter it.
Thanks to this vaccine, cases drastically dropped with the last natural case occurring in 1979.
The other vaccine is an oral vaccine that has a live virus to try and do the same thing as the dead virus.
This one is given in countries like Pakistan or Afghanistan where polio is still very active.
The weakened virus won’t cause the illness, but it can survive through excrement, spreading to others until it mutates enough to be strong again.
The live vaccine is not used in the U.S. anymore and hasn’t been since 2000.
The last known case was in an infant in 2013 and happened when a family moved to the U.S. from India.
Could this virus spread, leading to a major polio infection?
This one case is not a cause for concern, according to Medical News Today.
The CDC states that after two doses of the vaccine series, it’s 90% effective at preventing a polio infection.
All four doses boost the chances of evading the virus to 99-100%.
The person infected in Rockland County has been isolating, so the chances of it spreading are low.
As the presence of the polio virus worries people, adults are choosing to start getting the vaccine, according to Record Online.
Around 90 individuals have gone to medical offices in Rockland County to receive the polio vaccine.
71 more have shown up for a vaccine session through the Rockland Health Department.
Everyone except two were over the age of 20, and the two oldest were 87 years old.
Unfortunately, the vaccine won’t provide immediate protection against the virus.
It could take up to 7 months for the body to become immune to the polio virus.
There are a total of three shots adults need to be immune, and they must wait a period of time between shots.
It takes around 7 months before all three doses can be administered.
Booster shots are recommended for adults at higher risk, like those who have come into contact with someone with polio.
Whether that first dose provides adequate protection hasn’t been studied, so experts do not know if it will matter.
Other states are seeing lower polio vaccine rates as well
It isn’t just New York or Rockland County seeing lower vaccine rates, it’s also other states.
Idaho continues to see vaccine rates for polio drop, which has been happening for over a decade.
According to Idaho Capital Sun, the immunization rate for the polio vaccine is just over the rate needed for herd immunity.
The rate for vaccination in Idaho kindergartners is at 86.6%.
The U.S. has a vaccine rate for children of 93.4%.
Idaho has very relaxed laws regarding children and vaccines, allowing exemptions for any reason.
Schools are legally required to tell parents they do not require vaccines for enrolling children in school.
Data shows that there has been a major drop between 2018 and 2022 in proper vaccination.
Around 9.3% of parents that enrolled children in school submitted vaccine exemptions.
Four years ago that number was just 7.4%.
Experts suggest that communities should maintain a vaccination rate of 80% to 85% in order to keep herd immunity.
Polio spreading could disable people permanently because it attacks the spinal cord.
Most people will recover, but some face a lifetime disability that causes permanent paralysis and inability to breathe.
Should people be worried about polio in wastewater?
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the United Kingdom detected polio in the sewers of London on June 22.
After continuing to test the sewers, the Health Security Agency continued to find traces.
The results were genetically close, suggesting it was from a family or tight community.
To help diminish the presence of polio in the United Kingdom, the country has phased out the use of oral vaccination due to the use of the live virus.
The best way to avoid catching the potentially deadly virus is to stay up to date on your vaccines.