April 16, 2023 | 7:30 PM
Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan warned that about half of immigrants arriving in New York City are not vaccinated against polio.
A staggering 50% of immigrants entering the Big Apple have not been vaccinated against the contagious and potentially deadly poliovirus, it was recently revealed.
Vasan also said the new migrants were coming from or transiting through countries with high rates of infectious tuberculosis, noting chickenpox outbreaks in shelters housing new migrants. .
“More than 50,000 people came to New York City (NYC) in the past year, just after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. As more people arrive and more people make NYC their home, , the scale and scope of needs continue to grow.” In a letter on page 8, Vasan said: It will be mailed to doctors and other health care providers on April 11. The Post has obtained a copy.
“I am now writing to highlight how important it is for health care providers to consider a wide range of considerations when working with asylum seekers … the scope of this letter is , represents the scale of the need. It is our responsibility as a welcoming city to comprehensively assess and meet these needs.”
Vasan said screening and vaccination of migrants against diseases and viruses being checked in the city is a top priority.
“Vaccination rates for certain diseases are low in some of the most common countries of origin, with rates for polio as an example around 50 percent,” the commissioner said.
The poliovirus is spread by person-to-person contact, resides in the throat and intestines of an infected person, and can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.
Paralysis is the most serious symptom of the poliovirus, as it can lead to permanent disability or death.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2 and 10 people in 100 people paralyzed by polio die because the virus damages the muscles that help them breathe.
Jay Varma, a senior health adviser to former Mayor Bill de Blasio, said the number of polio-free immigrants was a concern but manageable.
“There’s always a risk to public health when people aren’t vaccinated against important infections like measles or polio,” Varma told The Post on Sunday.
“That said, with the high levels of vaccination among children and adults of current New Yorkers, the risk is not immediate. , it is critical that health care providers ensure that newly arrived people are vaccinated under the Refugee Resettlement Programme.”
The potential for a public health outbreak is one of many concerns for authorities concerned about absorbing the influx of migrants.
Mayor Eric Adams said the city’s tab could reach an estimated $4.3 billion to cover shelter, food and other services for asylum seekers.
In his letter, the health commissioner said doctors should ask newcomers for vaccination records, “but expect that they may not be available,” he said. He added that the patient’s vaccination record should be entered into the citywide vaccination register.
“Children should urgently be screened and vaccinated with all recommended immunizations needed, including those required for school attendance. Vaccines for both influenza and COVID-19 Vaccines should be offered to everyone over the age of six months,” Vasan wrote.
He also said it was important to test tissues, especially for tuberculosis, an infectious bacterial disease characterized by the growth of nodules in the lungs.
Tuberculosis of the lungs and throat is often contagious, but not other parts of the body, such as the kidneys or spine.
People with tuberculosis are most likely to spread tuberculosis to people they spend time with every day, such as family members.
“Many people who recently arrived in New York City have lived in or traveled to countries with high tuberculosis rates,” Bassan said.
He said anyone with symptoms of active tuberculosis should undergo a prompt evaluation and testing, including a chest x-ray.
He said the city’s health department clinics are providing free treatment to patients regardless of immigration status.
Immigrants should ask if they have symptoms of tuberculosis, such as a prolonged or bloody cough, fever or night sweats, and unexplained weight loss.
“Healthcare providers should also evaluate all recently arrived immigrants to the United States for LTBI,” the commissioner said.
The letter said the immigrant had contracted chickenpox.
“There is an outbreak of chickenpox among families who have recently arrived and are living in shelters and other institutions in New York City. Most cases are among unvaccinated children. However, cases have also occurred among young adults.
Chickenpox is highly contagious and causes an itchy, blister-like rash on the skin. Not considered life-threatening.
“Vaccinate children and adults with no or unknown chickenpox or vaccination history urgently,” Vasan said.
Individual cases of chickenpox usually do not need to be reported to the health department.
However, the commissioner said chickenpox cases in shelters should be reported to the health department’s provider access line because of recent outbreaks caused by migrants.
He also urged doctors to expedite migrants with COVID-19 vaccinations.
“COVID-19 continues to spread in New York City,” the commissioner said. “Some people may have had his COVID-19 vaccination first at the U.S.-Mexico border, but may not have had additional vaccinations in the U.S.,” he wrote. I’m here.
Elsewhere, immigrants endured the often grueling and dangerous journeys just to cross the Mexico-U.S. border to New York, as well as check for sexually transmitted diseases and maternal health. should be screened for trauma, he insisted.
“For many asylum-seekers, finding shelter requires traveling long distances and enduring many experiences before they can get help. Many people are at increased risk of experiencing mental health decline due to pre- and post-migration traumatic experiences and pre-existing social and mental health conditions that may impair their ability to cope,” the letter said. said.
Equally important is helping immigrants apply for public health insurance. Because immigrants are mostly eligible even though their immigration status is undocumented or uncertain because their asylum applications are pending.
Children under the age of 18 are eligible for the Child Health Plus public health insurance program, regardless of immigration status.
Pregnant women are eligible for Medicaid regardless of immigration status, and paroled immigrants – who are allowed to make love and work in the United States temporarily – are eligible for public health insurance. There may be
Others are at least eligible for Emergency Medicaid to pay for medical expenses such as hospitalization and treatment.