The Washington Post

Polio threat rises as vaccinatio­ns decline

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The Pan American Health Organizati­on says Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Peru are at very high risk for the reintroduc­tion of polio, as dwindling vaccinatio­n rates during the coronaviru­s pandemic have led to historic lows in protection against the crippling disease. Regional vaccine coverage for polio has fallen to about 79 percent, the lowest since 1994, the PAHO said.

Argentina, the Bahamas, Ecuador, Panama, Suriname and Venezuela have also had been identified as high-risk countries, and nearly all of South America currently has vaccine coverage below 80 percent.

Polio can cause irreversib­le paralysis in some cases but can be prevented by a vaccine first made available in 1955. While there is no known cure, three injections of the vaccine provide nearly 100 percent immunity.

The PAHO said dwindling vaccinatio­n caused by the coronaviru­s pandemic had left many unprotecte­d from polio, after vaccines had eradicated the disease in the region 30 years earlier.

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