Wednesday, December 06, 2023

REMEMBERING: The polio crisis

| April 14, 2023 1:00 AM

With polio on the verge of eradication, our job, in helping the world, is to eliminate polio forever, just like we did for smallpox. I care because I was a polio victim and I had playmates die of polio prior to the development of the vaccine.

In the summer of 1952, 52,000 children either died or were paralyzed by the polio virus. In 1954, a large-scale national study enrolled over one million children to study the effects of the Salk vaccine. In 1955 widespread use of the vaccine occurred and after mass production, the number of cases fell to less than 6,000 per year, with complete U.S. eradication in 1994. By 1959, the vaccine was being delivered to children in 90 countries.

The Salk vaccine was followed by the development of the oral Sabin vaccine, widely used today for the prevention of polio. After 70 years, the number of cases worldwide has decreased by 99.9%, yet those few remaining global cases could put unvaccinated children at risk for polio globally.

You can help by advocating for lifesaving vaccines by contacting Sens. Risch and Crapo and Rep. Fulcher to ask that they fully fund the global childhood immunization program for the 2024 budget. Access to vaccines in low resource countries will prevent the spread of deadly diseases to the U.S.


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