SAN DIEGO — Polio isn't something most of us have had to worry about for decades.
But, health officials are now on alert after a young man in New York was recently diagnosed with the virus. It was also detected in New York wastewater, an indication of more cases.
If you received the polio vaccine decades ago, are you still protected or do you need a booster?
- Dr. Davey Smith, Head of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at UC San Diego
- Dr. Mark Sawyer, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Rady Children's Hospital
- The County of San Diego
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
No, if you’ve had the polio vaccine, you don’t need a booster.
WHAT WE FOUND
Both Dr. Smith and Dr. Sawyer say if you've received all doses of the polio vaccine, you're protected.
According to the CDC, for children, it's four doses. For adults who have never been vaccinated against polio, it's three.
"It's one of the great characteristics of the polio vaccine. Once you've completed the whole series, you're good to go, and you don’t need to be boosted the way you are with COVID vaccines. Once you’re immune you’re protected,” said Dr. Sawyer.
Our sources say the polio vaccine is readily available, as it’s already part of routine childhood vaccinations.
While there is no federal requirement to get the polio vaccine, all 50 states require children entering childcare or public schools to have it. According to the CDC, in California, the polio vaccine rate for children is 92%, with an effectiveness rate of more than 99%.
While the vast majority of people with polio have no symptoms, some could wind up paralyzed.
Our sources do recommend that if you’re not already vaccinated, it’s important to do so.
"For every 200 people who get polio, 20 of them will have what we call meningitis which is swelling of the brain and one in 200 will have really severe paralysis," said Dr. Smith.
“The risk is very low but it's a risk not worth taking because the consequences are so severe, said Dr. Sawyer.
If you don't remember getting the polio vaccine as a child or can't find out, Dr. Smith and Dr. Sawyer tell me it is safe to get one now as an adult, saying there's no harm in getting a polio booster shot.
The polio vaccine given in the United States does not contain a live virus as it does in other countries.
Our experts believe polio is being detected now in New York because of advancements in technology, specifically the use of wastewater testing, which became popular during the pandemic.
San Diego County officials tell CBS 8 they are considering testing our wastewater for polio, as they already do for COVID-19.
WATCH RELATED: Jona Salk's polio vaccine developed 65 years ago