Omaha doctors encourage everyone to be on top of their polio vaccinations

Polio hasn't been in the news much for decades. But its become a hot topic again after doctors confirmed a case in New York.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 7:01 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Polio hasn’t been in the news much for decades. However, it has become a hot topic again after doctors confirmed a case in New York.

Many people are now asking if they got the polio vaccine as a kid, and if they’re still protected.

Dr. David Quimby with CHI Health/Creighton University says he’s surprised he’s talking about the disease, since it was considered eradicated in the U.S. in 1979.

Quimby joins doctors across the country, warning of a possible resurgence of polio, after a case was confirmed in an unvaccinated person in Rockland County, New York, and found the virus in wastewater in at least four New York counties.

Quimby say polio is likely limited to a small area right now and is not considered a wide threat in Nebraska.

“What you would likely see here instead of an outbreak is an individual person who brings it in from a different area,” Quimby said.

Doctors say that could change, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.

“Even if we’re doing better in Nebraska than other parts of the country, we have trickled down a little bit. We’re still pretty good, but we’ve tricked down some and we don’t want that trend to continue.”

Doctors would like to see the trend reversed.

“All of these vaccines have been keeping us and our children protected,” said Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan with CHI Health/Creighton University.

While there is no federal law requiring the vaccine, every state has laws requiring vaccinations to attend most schools and daycares.

Most adults in the U.S. were vaccinated against polio as a child and are likely still protected. Doctors say anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated should roll up their sleeves.

The CDC says all infants and children in the U.S. should get a series of four doses.

Adults who can’t remember if they were vaccinated should get the shots. Boosters are generally not recommended but may be given to vaccinated adults who are traveling to countries with an outbreak, and people in areas with low vaccination rates.

Doctors say side effects are rare and include soreness and fatigue.

“This is one of the safest vaccines out there and it has decades of history behind it,” Quimby said.

The state of New York has broadened its polio recommendations to include health care and wastewater workers.

So far, the CDC hasn’t made any changes to recommendations for the general public.