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County To Accept Polio Vaccine

Dr. Michael Faulk, interim public health director, speaks to the Chautauqua County Legislature. Photo by Gregory Bacon

Chautauqua County is moving ahead to help get people vaccinated against polio for those who want it.

During last week’s county Legislature meeting, lawmakers voted unanimously to accept Poliovirus vaccine from the state Health Department.

There is no charge for the vaccine. In the past the county has accepted COVID-19 vaccine as well as vaccine for monkeypox.

Dr. Michael Faulk, interim public health director, discussed the program at both the full legislature meeting as well as during committee meetings from the week prior.

“Several months ago Rockland County in New York state reported a positive polio case in a young individual that resulted in significant neurologic deficits, which polio does, essentially causing paralysis,” he said.

There have been no other positive cases reported in Chautauqua County or elsewhere in the state.

Faulk said those at risk for polio are the unvaccinated.

“The state is basically saying we want to have the opportunity for those that are willing, to get vaccinated, to have the vaccine ready and available at no cost,” he said.

Faulk said there are several people in the county that are unvaccinated but have changed their mind about the polio vaccine. “We want to be there for those who decide that that’s important to them,” he said.

Faulk noted the Amish population in particular has a large number of people who are unvaccinated.

“Certain sects of the Amish are open to the idea of vaccination,” he said, noting the county just recently held a vaccination clinic in December in an Amish community.

Faulk calls polio “a devastating illness” and wants to help people understand the benefits of being vaccinated. “The last thing we want is to see polio rear is ugly head in our society. It’s a horrible, terrible disease, causing terrible neurologic deficits that last a lifetime,” he said.

Faulk sees the Public Health Department’s role to help educate people about these types of diseases and offer vaccines for those who want it. “It’s a personal decision that they make between themselves and their physicians or us as the Health Department. We’ll give them as much information as we can, so that they can make an informed decision on whether or not it’s right for them,” he said.

The resolution accepting the polio vaccine from the state was unanimously approved.

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