After an unvaccinated man last month in Rockland County, New York was diagnosed with the first U.S. case of paralytic polio in decades, officials with New York's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene collected wastewater samples to see if the virus has been circulating across the state undetected.
Their findings show that's likely the case, with poliovirus being detected in at least six New York sewage samples.
Concerns about the re-emergence of another viral scourge started to intensify over the summer, when wastewater samples detected polio in London and in Israel. And now, with New York's findings, many are searching for their own vaccination records to help determine risk.
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Is The Polio Vaccine Required?
According to research from NBC News, most Americans were vaccinated against the virus in early childhood. Kindergarten vaccination rates for polio have hovered around 95% since at least the 2011-12 school year.
That's because polio vaccines are required for children entering kindergarten in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, though states allow medical exemptions and, in some cases, religious or philosophical exemptions as well.
But there's no federal database of vaccination records. So if you’re unsure whether you were fully vaccinated against polio, how you retrieve your records depends on where you got your immunizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests asking parents or caregivers, doctors or public health clinics you visited as a child, or previous employers that required immunizations. Schools may also keep records for a couple of years after students graduate.
You can also request records from the health department of the state where you were vaccinated, but the systems for storing and enabling access to that information vary.
While many states allow you to request records through online forms or mobile apps, or to immediately search for records through online portals, Illinois is not one of them. Though residents in Illinois can request their vaccination records, it can take up to a month to process.
How to Request Your Polio Vaccination Record if You Live in Illinois records if you live in Illinois
"Please allow 3-4 weeks for processing," the IDPH form says.
For more information about Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange, visit the IDPH website.