Best vaccine story . ..
I was at a meeting this week where we were discussing the upcoming campaigns for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. Somebody asked us about our strongest memory of immunizations or vaccines. I was born toward the end of the polio epidemic years in Canada, so was vaccinated against this and a number of other childhood illnesses. But I grew up seeing semi-paralyzed polio victims in wheel chairs or using leg braces and metal crutches. I also heard stories about severe polio victims living in iron lungs in the King George Hospital in Winnipeg. It was all very scary.
Not surprisingly, the best vaccine story for me is that of GPEI. There were approximately 350,000 children stricken with polio in 1988, the year the initiative was launched, but only 33 new cases in 2018. The cases are up slightly this year, but the partnership to end the disease remains strong. Rotary Clubs, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and donor governments are major funders, and all determined to see polio eradicated like small pox was in the 1970s.