Doctors and nurses among patients in Iron Lungs during the polio pandemic. (Yale University School of Medicine)

Doctors and nurses among patients in Iron Lungs during the polio pandemic. (Yale University School of Medicine)

Oct. 24 marks World Polio Day

Vicious virus crippled tens of thousands of Canadians but was stopped in its tracks by a vaccine

Today (Oct. 24) marks World Polio Day, where people will remember another vicious virus that affected tens of thousands of Canadians before being stopped in its tracks through a vaccine.

Rotary International (R.I.) has been working diligently to eradicate Polio in the world for over 40 years. The organization operates its Polio Plus program worldwide.

Polio has been with us for a long time. Those who are old enough to remember will recall getting vaccinations on a sugar cube and other methods at school in the 1950s and 1960s. They will also remember the ‘iron lung’ machine used to support patients unfortunate enough to contract polio.

There is no cure or treatment for polio.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been graciously matching R.I.’s financial support for the Polio Plus program since the early 1980s. R.I.’s financial contribution is supported by local Rotary clubs including Penticton Sunrise Rotary Club.

The combined hands-on vaccination and monetary support have resulted in a decline of Polio for millions of people when the Polio Plus program began. Only two reported cases occurred in 2021. All current cases are in regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Africa, for example, has been Polio free for a few years now.

This is a tremendous accomplishment, but it is not a victory – yet.

Join the Rotary Club of Penticton Sunrise and Rotary Clubs everywhere in their quest to get rid of this insidious disease. For more information, check out endpolio.org.

READ MORE: ‘It makes me feel angry, disappointed, and sad,’ B.C. polio survivor says of vaccine refusal

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