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Amidst a Global Resurgence in Polio, Many U.S. States Lag Behind in Immunization Coverage

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Chandler, AZ - September 19, 2023 - Polio has reappeared in many countries where it was once eradicated, including the U.S. Unfortunately, some U.S. states have substantially lower vaccination rates than others leaving gaps where polio can take hold. We provide data and expert commentary addressing the issue.

Polio has not been a huge problem in the United States since the 1950s when the polio vaccine was introduced. Unfortunately, the virus has not been eradicated worldwide and it is currently making a comeback in many parts of the world, including the U.S. In 2022, A man in Rockland County, New York was partially paralyzed by poliovirus and poliovirus was detected in wastewater for the same area, indicating the virus was circulating in the community. He had recently been to a large gathering but had not left the country when he caught it. The CDC has started to test wastewater in certain U.S. communities to monitor for polio outbreaks.

Child vaccination rates vary widely across the United States (see chart and map below), and it's become a critical issue in light of the recent polio resurgence. Missouri had the worst polio vaccination rate in the CDC's latest survey, with only 84.9% of children receiving the full polio vaccine series by age 3. Meanwhile, Rhode Island and Louisiana were tied for the best vaccination rates, with 99.5% of children receiving the full polio vaccine series by age 3.

To help address this issue, Away Clinic's medical director, Dr. Andrea H. An, offers her expert commentary, "If you have children, it's your responsibility to them and to your community to get them vaccinated. Polio attacks the nervous system, paralyzing its victims. It's a debilitating, crippling disease. I see fewer now, but earlier in my career I treated many people who suffered from the effects of this debilitating disease. You don't want to put your children through that."

Dr. An continues, “polio spreads primarily through fecal contamination. Vaccines as well as modern sewer and water systems help stop its spread. People most at risk for infection are those who have not received the full, 3-shot polio vaccine series as children, and people who are traveling abroad to polio-stricken areas. The U.S. CDC is now recommending a one-time adult polio booster for travel to many parts of the world.”

Away Clinic is an Arizona-based travel medicine practice with clinics in Chandler and Scottsdale. The clinic provides vaccines for people traveling abroad, including polio, yellow fever, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis vaccines. Away Clinic also offers vitamin and medication infusions at its Mesa location. Dr. Andrea An, Away Clinic's medical director, is a board-certified neurologist with over 20 years of experience.

Percentage of Children Born in 2019 Who Received the Full Polio Vaccine Series by Age 3

Notes: Data is from a U.S. CDC survey: Horizontal bars in the data table above represent 95% confidence intervals. There were 10,578 children surveyed for this portion of the dataset (average of 212 children per state).

Media contact: Aaron Charlton,

About the author

Aaron Charlton, PhD is a science and medical blogger and entrepreneur. He writes for Away Clinic and other medical clients. He also maintains a website called that is aimed at improving transparency and quality of scientific research within the field of marketing. He is sometimes quoted by the media on matters of scientific integrity.


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