2022 NY Polio Case: Why and What Does It Mean?

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Vaccine News

Polio was eliminated from the United States in 1979; however, on a few occasions, cases have been identified in this country. During the fall of 2022, an unvaccinated man in Rockland County, New York, was paralyzed as a result of a polio infection. The NY man was infected with a type of poliovirus that came from the oral polio vaccine, called vaccine-derived paralytic polio. The case was concerning because we know that only about 1 of every 2,000 people infected with this vaccine-derived strain will be paralyzed, meaning that many others are likely also being exposed to this virus. High vaccination rates in most U.S. communities mean that often we remain unaware of the presence of the virus, but recent drops in routine immunizations following the pandemic have left some communities more vulnerable.

In this video, Dr. Paul Offit discusses the history of polio and the polio vaccines — inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV). He explains why in rare instances OPV reverts to wildtype virus and the mechanism by which unvaccinated individuals can also get paralytic polio.

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