World Polio Day October 24
Rotary has been part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative GPEI for over 3 decades. In that time, we have helped to reduce the number of active polio cases by 99.99% BUT we are not finished yet. Perhaps due to the Covid pandemic and some diminished focus, polio cases are still occurring. A young man in Upper New York state has suffered from paralytic polio this month. He was unvaccinated and resided in a county that had a polio vaccination rate of only 60%. The USA had been polio- free since 1979.  In addition to this case, the presence of the polio virus in sewage water is cause for further concern. The virus is highly contagious and is spread easily by lapses in personal hygiene and hand to mouth transmission. The virus enters the body through the digestive tract. It then can cause a mild digestive disturbance. The virus is shed in the stool. The incidence of paralytic complications is estimated at 1 in 200 but there is no treatment other than supportive care and rehab once this occurs. As we have known since the mid 50’s, prevention of polio by monitored vaccination programs is the only way to prevent this disease and to ultimately eliminate it.
The vaccination routine for children is to administer the doses at 2, 4 and 18 months and a 4th booster dose by age 6. Health officials are urging all adults to bring their vaccine status up to date. The following information is from the CDC (Centre for Disease Control in the US): Most adults in the US and Canada were vaccinated as children and are therefore likely to be protected from getting polio. Adults who completed their polio vaccination but who are at increased risk of coming in contact with poliovirus  may receive one lifetime IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine- injectable) booster. Some adults might not have received all recommended doses of either OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine) or IPV and therefore might not be sufficiently protected against polio. Adults who are incompletely vaccinated should get or complete their polio vaccination with IPV.
Rotary has promised to remain a partner in this important health measure until the disease is officially eradicated- no case of polio for 3 years. We are very close to accomplishing this goal but must not let up now.  Rotarians are encouraged to keep the conversation and this initiative going by supporting the Rotary Foundation and participating in World Polio Day October 24 in their clubs, clusters and communities.
Submitted by Mike Lawrie