The fear of being unvaccinated against a virus that can cause permanent paralysis and, in some cases, death, is real, especially after a resident in Rockland County in New York tested positive for polio in July. Health officials also said that if it’s spreading locally, for every case identified, there are likely hundreds more that go undetected.
Symptoms of polio can be mild and flulike, including fatigue, nausea, fever, headache, and muscle pain, which makes it hard to set it apart from other more common illnesses. It can take up to 30 days for symptoms to appear, and during that time the virus can be spread to others.
If you are not vaccinated against polio, you should get three doses of a vaccine, according to the CDC. The first two doses should be separated by one to two months and the third dose should be given 6 to 12 months after the second dose.
Dr. Waleed Javaid, a hospital epidemiologist and director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown, told BuzzFeed News not to worry, though. He said most people should be vaccinated but to check with your doctor to be sure.
“We are living in a time where we have seen a pandemic of COVID, followed by a spread of monkeypox, and this has raised our awareness to a different level,” he said. “We all are already worried about why are all these infections coming in our way and what I would say to that is that COVID and monkeypox, we really didn’t have good vaccination plans or processes, but polio, we have successful strategy, successful vaccination that has eradicated for the most part polio in many parts of the world.”
For more on what you need to know about polio, go here.
After health officials announced the polio virus is in New York’s wastewater, people tweeted about their confusion over whether they had received the vaccine when they were young. And stories of the ensuing interactions with their parents quickly spread on social media.