NYC Migrants Unvaccinated

( – Approximately half of the illegal immigrants to reach New York City have not been vaccinated against polio. Around 50,000 people have been sent to the Big Apple from Texas since last spring, and officials believe half are not protected against the potentially lethal poliovirus. The New York City health commissioner Ashwin Vasan has written to colleagues starkly warning that diseases previously eradicated in the United States have returned. The letter furthermore warns that migrants will have passed through countries where tuberculosis is widespread. It also states that many immigrants will have experienced severe trauma that can prompt serious mental health concerns.

Polio is a highly contagious disease that spreads quickly – usually through poor hygiene practices, such as failure to wash hands after using the restroom. Symptoms are generally flu-like, but in severe cases, it can cause paralysis. This often disturbs the legs but is particularly dangerous if the respiratory system is affected.

The virus was declared eliminated in the US in 1979. In the 1950s, it was devastating and led to severe disabilities in tens of thousands of people. Scientists developed the first vaccine in Pittsburgh in 1955. An easy-to-take oral vaccine soon followed that helped to wipe the disease out in industrialized countries. In 2020, there were no cases of paralytic polio in the United States. That is now in reverse, and the US is not the only country affected.
Mass immigration to Europe has revitalized the disease there too. The last case was detected in the United Kingdom in 1984. But by 2022, it had returned. Experts believe it came from the third world and Middle Eastern countries.

In New York, newly arrived children enroll in city schools without meeting vaccination requirements. One parent said, “When you are talking now about hundreds of children entering a school and coming from countries where we know the same childhood vaccinations are not available— it’s hard to not see where vulnerable families could be put at risk.”

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