Thursday, July 21, 2022


President Biden's COVID diagnosis wasn't the only big health news today. There was also this:
A case of polio has been identified in an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County, according to a news release from the New York State Department of Health and the Rockland County Department of Health on Thursday.

The agencies confirmed that the infection was transmitted from someone who received the oral polio vaccine, which has not been administered in the United States since 2000. Officials believe the virus may have originated outside the United States, where the oral vaccine is still administered....

Those already vaccinated against polio are at very low risk: Those who have had all three shots have close to 100 percent protection. But those who are unvaccinated or haven’t completed their vaccination series should get vaccinated, officials said....

The oral vaccine is safe and effective and is still given in countries where vaccine access is more limited. However, people who receive the oral vaccine, which contains a weakened version of the virus, may still shed the virus.
Right-wingers on social media, based on exactly zero evidence, identified a culprit:

But if the New York Post is correct, this didn't happen in an enclave of undocumented residents:
Three elected officials, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told The Post that the case was connected to the local Orthodox Jewish community where pockets of vaccine resistance stoked an outbreak of measles in 2019.
The New York Times adds:
... a regional health assessment reported that about half of children in Rockland County had received all of their routine childhood vaccinations in 2016 by 35 months of age, one of the lowest rates in the region. To achieve herd immunity for polio, the target vaccination rate is 80 percent, according to the World Health Organization.
And The Washington Post says:
... in areas with low vaccination coverage, such as the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, people who are not vaccinated are at high risk.
According to a Pew survey, 75% of Orthodox Jews in America identify as Republicans or Republican leaners. (American Jews overall are 71% Democratic.) As Religion News Service puts it, "In voting, Orthodox Jews are looking more like evangelicals." In vaccination, too, I guess. And the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community seems more Republican and Trumpier than the Modern Orthodox community.

We don't know who transmitted the virus, but it appears that this person was responsible enough to get vaccinated, though apparently in a country where the riskier vaccine is used. The person who contracted polio seems not to have been vaccinated, in childhood or adulthood.

The story of this case might change as we learn more. But for now it appears that this virus came from a vaccinated person -- but would have been no threat to someone who was also vaccinated.

No comments: