Poliomyelitis was once a deadly and supremely debilitating disease, affecting thousands upon thousands of people, mainly children, each year. Those affected who were lucky enough to get treatment were put into iron lungs to breathe for them.
That all changed sixty years ago today, when a vaccination for poliomyelitis was announced, created by Jonas Salk. This vaccine proved hugely successful, and, along with Sabin’s vaccine and a concerted effort by governments and organisations around the world, resulted in the eradication of polio from many countries. The Oxford University Press blog has a piece on Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine, and Maryn McKenna over at National Geographic’s Phenomena interviewed a “polio warrior” about his involvement in the decades of struggle towards the eradication of polio. They are both fascinating reads, and the result of all that hard work can easily be seen.
Unfortunately, the ridiculousness of the recent anti-vax movement is halting, and in some cases even reversing, this good trend. If you want people, if you want children, to suffer from poliomyelitis, by all means don’t get vaccinated. But wouldn’t you rather they lived a long and healthy life? I would, so get vaccinated. Onwards.