We were so close to eradicating polio, recently bringing the number of endemic countries from 125 down to 4, but ack! There is now a big resurgence. Why? In 2003, rumors in Nigeria circulated that the vaccine caused HIV or sterility (it doesn’t), so people stopped vaccinating. Within only 3 years, polio strains from Nigeria spread to 20 previously polio-free countries, causing 5,000 cases of paralytic polio. This is sad.
One major hurdle in disease eradication is that when a disease is nearly gone, people stop worrying about it and lose the motivation to vaccinate. So the disease starts to return, and when it hits a certain level, people freak out again and resume vaccinating. This cycle, of course, can go on indefinitely, in which case we’ll never eradicate the disease and be able to stop vaccinating. Let’s not fall victim to this mentality. The thought of vaccination can be unpleasant and scary, I know. But diseases are too, and I’d rather not need this reminder every so often... The sooner we eradicate polio, the sooner we can all stop vaccinating against it, so now more than ever is the time to be aggressive with it. Future generations won’t need the vaccine OR be at risk for polio. That’s the best of both worlds! The generation before us got rid of smallpox so we don’t need to vaccinate anymore - we can return the favor by doing the same with polio for the next generation. Don’t forget, eradicating a disease means eradicating the vaccine!
Want to help the eradication process? It’s easy! Text “polio” to 90999 on your cell phone to donate $5 towards the effort. I did it. This money goes to support The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is a Collaboration of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary Club, and the CDC.
For more on contributing to the Initiative, including online donations, click here: www.polioeradication.org
For more information mobile donation in general, including terms and conditions, click here: www.mgive.org