Pan American Health Organization warns Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Peru are at risk of polio

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned about a possible recurrence of polio, identifying Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Peru as very high-risk countries for the disease.

PAHO director Dr. Carissa F. Etienne said that low vaccination coverage had threatened the reintroduction of polio, with only 79 percent across the Americas. Etienne noted that the current vaccination coverage is the lowest since 1994.

Etienne has urged countries to boost surveillance and strengthen immunization against polio.

“Let’s be very clear; polio is not a treatable disease. Prevention is the only option. And prevention is only possible with vaccines,” Etienne said.

Peru’s polio vaccination coverage has remained below 70 percent since 2000. The coverage percentage has remained at 51 for three consecutive years since 2019.

In Brazil, vaccination coverage has continued to decline since 2016. According to the World Health Organization, the country recorded 68 percent immunization coverage in 2021.

The WHO data showed that the Dominican Republic’s vaccination coverage plunged to 80 percent in 2020 from 92 percent in 2019.

In Peru, 79 percent of immunization coverage was recorded in 2021.

In July, a new polio infection was reported in New York. The patient was identified as a resident of Rockland County who was unvaccinated.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a State of Disaster Emergency in early September, boosting immunization efforts in the state. 

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