World Polio Day October 24th
As the needle plunged into my arm I squeezed my eyes shut, not because it hurt, so much as I was not expecting to have to get a Polio shot that day. To travel to South Africa from the USA you do not need a Visa, and very few vaccines are suggested. This makes it one of the easiest African countries for us Americans to travel to. So I was surprised when the Polio vaccine was one of the highly suggested ones as I prepared for an Insight Trip to Johannesburg with Global Team of 200 and its founder Jennifer James.
As a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion I shouldn’t have been surprised, one thing I have learned is that as long as Polio exists anywhere in the world it is still a threat to all of us. Although it hasn’t been found in South Africa since 1989, we know from the recent cases of the disease popping up in countries like Somalia and Kenya, that the virus is only one boarder crossing or plane ride away.
If you ask anyone old enough to remember back when it existed In the US, they grow wide-eyed at the topic. They all remember the terror that gripped communities before the Polio vaccine arrived in 1962.
My own mother had been the victim of a Polio outbreak as a young child. She was lucky enough to survive, but with one leg shorter than the other that served as a reminder to the ordeal. I can only imagine how frightened my grandmother must have been that her first-born might succumb to the disease.
Today Polio has been eradicated in 99% of the world; only the countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria still have the problem of indigenous wild polio virus transmissions. Rotary International established World polio Day in honor of Jonas Salk, who developed the vaccine against poliomyelitis. The Polio vaccine has led the fight in eradicating the disease, but if polio exists anywhere, it is a threat everywhere. As a global community we are in the final push to eradicate Polio once and for all.
It is important that action is taken now before we lose this opportunity. The gaps in funding have forced those implementing the vaccine to scale back their polio vaccination efforts creating vulnerable populations worldwide. If we do not stop this disease now, it is estimated an additional 200,000 children a year will become paralyzed.
Today, October 24 is World Polio Day; a day to commemorate the progress we’ve made and how much further we have to go. In honor of World Polio Day, a resolution has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to commemorate this important day, and we need your help to get it passed. Contact your Senator and tell them to support S. Res. 270.
Won’t it be great when no one needs to get the Polio vaccine anymore?