Local public health officials in New York praised the emergency declaration by Gov. Kathy Hochul last week to combat the polio outbreak in the state.
But at the same time, the officials pointed to being short on staff and resources that could hinder their ability to adequately respond to the problem.
"Virtually all 58 local health departments are experiencing critical staff and resource shortages, posing grave threats to their ability to protect the public’s health," said Sullivan County Health Director Nancy McGraw. "These are vulnerabilities that must be addressed in the coming state fiscal year."
The state's polio declaration comes after a summer in which multiple cases of polio were discovered, initially in the Hudson Valley region and later New York City wastewater, the first confirmed case of the disease in the United States since 2013. Polio has subsequently been confirmed in Nassau County, health officials said last week.
County health officials over the last 2 1/2 years have contended with overlapping crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, a concurrent rise in opioid overdoses and deaths and an outbreak of monkeypox.
Hochul's declaration on Friday is meant to make it easier for vaccines to be administered by EMS workers, midwives and pharmacists.
McGraw, who is also president of the County Health Officials of New York, called the move a critical step, adding vaccinations are key to prevent further spread.
"Unfortunately, because of misinformation spread on social media and by other means, many people have failed to adequately protect their health by getting themselves and their children vaccinated," she said. "We know that the best way to protect against contracting polio is to get vaccinated."