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28 Days of Impact: Why Are We Still Talking About Polio?

28 Days of Impact is a blog relay celebrating the impact vaccines have on children in developing countries every day for the month of February.  Today I get to take a shot at it, here's my contribution:

9_Ann Lee Hussey 2_Liz Thompson
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark /Real Simple magazine

Ann Lee Hussey contracted Polio when she was only seventeen months old in 1955 and suffered with the disease as a child. It paralyzed her from the waist down and she spent several weeks in the hospital. She has had countless treatments, can walk with limitations and now believes that she suffers from Post-Polio Syndrome (or PPS). 

Although she admittedly fears PPS (the symptoms can significantly interfere with an individual's ability to function independently) Ann is dedicated to fighting Polio a world away. 

Personally, I can remember receiving vaccines in grade school:  my classmates and I would march into the gym, line up and nervously wait for our turn.  However, I was very, very relieved to hear whispers that the school nurse was actually "dripping" the Polio vaccine onto a sugar cube.

I hated shots (still do!) and I am what many doctors have since clinically, yet delicately, labeled as "a fainter".

The fear of needles is a very difficult thing to overcome (trust me, I know, having suffered from tonsillitis as a child and endured dozens of penicillin shots, my backside STILL hurts just thinking about it) until I started having children.

Raising 3 teens and 1 tween has pretty much helped me get over a lot of stuff:  like my fear of needles, or fainting at the sight of blood (especially, if it is mine!) not to mention, cleaning up after my children and basically every bodily function known to parenthood.

Thankfully, I don't have to worry about stuff like my children contracting Polio or Measles and yet it is incredible for me to think that a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine preventable disease.

9_Ann Lee Hussey 1_Liz Thompson (1)
Photo credit: End Polio Now/Rotary

Not when there are folks like Ann Lee, working on the ground to help ensure that all children have a shot at a healthy life, who has personally taken part in more than 20 immunization trips to help eradicate Polio, worldwide.

How?  By helping parents (like you and me) understand that:

  • Vaccines are very safe, simple and one of the most cost-effective ways to save and improve the lives of children worldwide.
  • Vaccines work
  • Vaccines currently help save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year.
  • Vaccination efforts have already made a difference.  Thanks to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the number of cases of polio has dropped 99 percent and the Measles Initiative has vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries and has decreased measles deaths by 71 percent.
  • Vaccines can level the playing field so that all children, no matter their circumstances, have a shot at a healthy life.

Okay, now it's your turn.  

You can help sustain the impact by sending an email to your member of congress. Welcome your members to the 113th Congress and ask them to make sure that global health and vaccines are a priority in the new Congress. Take action and make an impact!

Because, honestly, we really need to stop talking about Polio and give it the virtual bitch-slap it deserves!

This story comes from Rotary International and is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up to Blogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Each day in February, you can read another impactful story on global childhood vaccines.  Tomorrow, don’t miss Roxanna's post on Everyday Treats! Go to www.shotatlife.org/impact to learn more.

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Disclosure:  No payment was received for this blog post, this is my contribution to giving Polio the bitch-slap it deserves....YO!!!

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