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Gov Hochul declares polio state of emergency in New York to boost vaccinations

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Governor Hochul issued an executive order expanding the state’s network of vaccine administrators to EMS workers, midwives and pharmacists as evidence mounts that the once rare virus is spreading in the state.

Only one case of paralytic polio has been recorded in Rockland County so far, but wastewater samples from across the city and surrounding suburbs suggest the pathogen is circulating across the region.

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. “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.

“Polio immunization is safe and effective – protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses,” she added.

Hochul’s order allows EMS workers, midwives and pharmacists to vaccinate people against the disease and also authorizes physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient specific standing orders for vaccines.

Healthcare providers will also be required to send polio immunization data to the state Department of Health to help authorities better track areas where vaccination efforts are most needed.

In a tweet, the governor said the state is “making it easier for New Yorkers to get their polio vaccine if they haven’t already received it,” but made no mention of the executive order.

“[The Health Department] is ramping up its vaccination efforts and EMTs, midwives, and pharmacists are now able to provide the vaccine,” she added.

Health officials have been monitoring sewage samples across the state in recent months and the virus has been detected in Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan Counties as well as within the five boroughs.

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