At least one branch from my family tree left England during the bubonic plague years to come to Virginia. It must be bad times when a swampy wilderness looks better than the home you’ve always known.
My grandmother was orphaned as a toddler during the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918. Her subsequent hard life surely shaped her as a mother, and not for the better. Hard times make hard people, and disease is second only to war, in my opinion, for making times hard.
My generation is lucky to not remember active polio outbreaks. Ask your parents or you grandparents what summer used to be like when friends and siblings went from active little kids to paralyzed or living in an iron lung. For us, the greatest modern wonder is the Internet, but older people remember when vaccines changed life remarkably.
Today is World Polio Day. A once-devastating disease only remains in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. We can celebrate the success of global vaccination efforts, while still working for complete polio eradication. Children in those three countries still live under the very real threat of polio.
While polio is down 99.9% from 1989, (read that statistic again; 99.9% in less than thirty years!) vaccination efforts are still needed.
I’ve been a volunteer for the last for years with Shot@Life, an organization that educates, connects, and empowers individuals to champion global vaccines as one of the most effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries.
You can help in some very simple ways.
- Take action. Petitions to elected officials, letters to the editor of your local news organizations, phone calls to your members of Congress all keep polio eradication at top of mind for the men and women who make important decisions about funding.
- Educate Yourself. Learn about polio, how it’s transmitted, and how vaccination works in prevention of disease.
- Become an Advocate. Join me and hundreds of other volunteers to become advocates for children.
- Donate. Every twenty seconds a child dies of a vaccine-preventable disease like polio, measles, and rubella.