Friday, October 31, 2008


Polio victims in Africa still crawl on paddded knees.

Robin said: …“but I do remember everyone in Laytonville lining up at the elementary school cafeteria to get a "pink dot" of polio vaccine on a sugar cube back in the '60s.”
Robin, the sugar cube that I ate was not pink it looked like a plain old sugar cube. The vaccine that they use now is as clear as water, and they drip it right on the tongue.

Robin must have a fertile mind, she keeps bringing up subjects that I’ve already made notes that I want to do a post on. Last week I made a note that I wanted to do a post on Polio eradication.

When I was a school kid, polio was the dreaded disease. We couldn’t go swimming in the summer because the “old wives” decided that Polio came from the water. We had an outbreak of Polio in Laytonville, and several kids disappeared from school. One came back wearing braces for life! That brings polio home, even for a kid.

The March Of Dimes was instituted to develop a vaccine against polio. Every store that a person went into had a card on the counter with dime slots in it, and if you got any dimes in your change you were expected to place them in the dime slots to fund polio research. Some people asked for dimes to place in the cards. I can still see the card in my mind. On the top of the card was a photo of a little kid in an “Iron Lung” that was used to help victims of paralysis breathe. I remember wondering if that was where my friends from school went. It didn’t look like that much fun to me. I remember that sometimes my Mom or Dad would give me a dime to put in one of the slots.

From Biography, Dr. Jonas salk:
"In 1955 Salk's years of research paid off. Human trials of the polio vaccine effectively protected the subject from the polio virus. When news of the discovery was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a miracle worker. He further endeared himself to the public by refusing to patent the vaccine. He had no desire to profit personally from the discovery, but merely wished to see the vaccine disseminated as widely as possible."

Many may know, but some don’t, that Rotary International has taken on the job of eradicating Polio throughout the whole world. Rotary was asked to accept the job of eradicating polio by the World Health Organization. In 1979 Rotary accepted that task, and the goal was to eradicate Polio by 1984.

The Rotary Club was asked to front the effort to eradicate polio because they take no position on religion or politics. Their stance of neutrality and impartiality made them the ideal vehicle for getting rid of the dreaded disease because they are welcome in most countries of the world. It seemed like it would be easy. Because Rotarians are in all most businesses, and have members all over the world, the vaccine can be moved cost free anywhere in the world, and can be delivered to a child’s tongue for under two dollars a dose. The only cost is the drug itself. Once polio is wiped out, it could be gone forever, like Smallpox.

What the Rotarians did not anticipate, and they should have, is the colossal stupidity of the human condition, and the struggle continues today. They gain a little and lose a little, and children in some countries are still getting polio.

From Time Magazine:
“In the summer of 2003, leaders of the region [Nigeria] stopped polio inoculations after rumors spread that the vaccine could transmit AIDS and render girls infertile. It was a bad time--and a very bad place--to halt vaccines. There are now 35 million Nigerian kids under age 5, and 20% have no polio vaccinations. Says Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for WHO's Global Polio Eradication Initiative: "That's a lot of breathing space for the poliovirus to survive."

Dr. Hamid Jafari:
"in certain places, fatwas have been issued against the vaccine." In those places, Muslims have stopped state health workers from entering their houses and administering the polio vaccine, which is administered orally, to their children.
Dr. Jafari adds that paranoia is not the only reason for the hostility to the polio drops. Uttar Pradesh is notorious for being one of the worst-administered regions of India, and most of the state has appallingly bad hospitals and health services. Muslims, who are among the poorest of Indians, bear the brunt of this collapse in the state's health infrastructure. Dr Jafari says: "There's a sense of frustration among many Muslims: they tell the health workers, we've never seen anyone coming to take care of us, why are you coming just to give us polio drops?"

Amid the heartache and frustration of eliminating Polio, there are good stories of epic proportions, wars have stopped the safe delivery of the vaccine in many countries, but there are exceptions:

From The World health Organization:
“Over 75,000 volunteer vaccinators delivered poliovaccine to children over a three-day period (13 - 15 August) in the first of three rounds of National Immunization Days in Democratic Republic of Congo. Fighting stopped in nine-tenths of the country to allow the campaign to go ahead, following the intervention of the UN Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan, urging all sides to comply with truces for polio immunization.
In Kisangani, 70 percent of children were vaccinated despite the outbreak of fighting on the third day. A ceasefire was agreed by the Presidents of Uganda and Rwanda, following a request by Mr Annan. An extra "catch-up" campaign to vaccinate unreached children in that area is scheduled.
"This is a significant step that brings us closer to a polio-free world," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO. "War is one of the greatest hurdles that we now face in our effort to eradicate this disease. Through the joint efforts of the UN agencies, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rotary International and local authorities, we overcame this in the interests of the world's children."

The Presidents of Uganda and Rwanda agreed that their war was not against their children, and they declared a cease-fire for the vaccinations to take place.

And of course, as time goes on, more children are born that are not immune, and the Rotarians start over, two steps forward and one step back. It looked like the goal would finally be reached in 2005, but the recent conflicts around the world have built new walls of danger and mistrust.

I am not against any Religion, but I have seen the suffering of too many children to accept a closed mind. Some feel the fight against the disease will be won, it is only a matter of time and opportunity. On the other hand, there is some indication, even here in the United States, of reluctance to have children vacinated for any of a variety of diseases. So, who really has the right to decide.

Polio may be with us a long time.

More on Polio


Indie said...

That is a really interesting, well written post, Ernie! I just read it out loud to my husband. The world can be a wretched place, but eradication of polio is something that CAN be done. Something we can hope for and do in good conscience and without divisive political agendas.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Indie, I hope that you corected the vocabulary as you read. My prose can sometimes be painful to read, even to me.

ben said...

Ernie... What a great post! I'm old enough to have had friends with polio and in Pasadena the City Pool was called the "Polio Pool". Some of our parent's problem was that the pool was integrated and our folks didn't want us there. We could go to the South Pasadena Pool where only city residents were allowed to swim. They never checked our ID but if your skin was dark, you can bet they checked. The vaccine was an incredible blessing.

Anonymous said...

This blog looks like a dead end so far. So what do the folks here think of the virus that looks imminent in our elections?

Indie said...

What the &^%&$%^$ are you talking about, Anonymous? There is nothing "dead end" here, except maybe you.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Some people are only concerned about what affects them. Anon has obviously already had his polio vaccine, and is more concerned about the election.

Anonymous said...

Robin said: …“but I do remember everyone in Laytonville lining up at the elementary school cafeteria to get a "pink dot" of polio vaccine on a sugar cube back in the '60s.

was that really a polio vaccine or were you just getting ready for the hog farm

Anonymous said...

I am dead end indie. And going down hill I think so don't cuss at me. It was just a suggestion.

Robin Shelley said...

Good post, Ernie. Very informative. Thanks. Oh, excuse me for a minute. I have something to address here.

You're not clever. You're not funny. You're not entertaining. You're not even a little bit amusing.
You probably have a whole repertoire of tired, old, used-up Laytonville & Mendocino County pot/Hog Farm/Wavy Gravy/Hippie/Moonie/Jim Jones/Tim Stoen/Kool Aid/Norm Vroman/Kenneth Parnell/Steven Staynor/"Tree Frog" Johnson jokes that probably tickle the hell out of you.
I might hide behind my mamma's "anonymous" skirt, too, if I embarrassed myself every time I opened my mouth. Your lack of intelligence does not compensate for your lack of character. My name is Robin Shelley. What's yours?

Now, as I was saying: that's a good post, Ernie. I appreciate the information & the efforts of the Rotary Club. Thanks.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Laytonville just flashed before my eyes.

Thank-you Robin.

I have much, much more to say about "Anon", but right now I have to go do my country good. Politicking. (Estelle 2008)

(Palin 2012) … That’s for Bunny

spyrock said...

they really are selling (sarah palin for 2012) t shirts on the internet for about $20. but the mayan callender says that we are entering a new age during the winter solstice of 2012. some people see this as a negative thing others a positive thing. i guess it depends on your point of view. but 2012 is a number i've been hearing a lot about this last year and that focus seems to be spreading to everyone.

Kym said...

Robin, You go Girl!

And Ernie I enjoyed your post, too. I remember those dime slots for polio, also. Thanks for all the good work you do.

Indie said...

Hey Anonymous,
Sorry about the cussing; it's not my usual style, unless I'm suddenly inspired to rise to someone's defense.

I was just feeling protective of Ernie and his thoughts. I'm rather fond of him, and I took your comments as insults to him.

In his later post, Ernie clears it all up... and talks politics!

Anonymous said...

You are right Robin. We all lined up for our Polio sugar cubes and some of us for injections, too, for that matter. My family was so grateful for the vaccines, as my dad, Uncle Ben to Ernie, limped all of his life from polio. He was the lucky one, as his cousin, Carol Underhill died. The kids played in 10- Mile Creek behind Great Grandpa and Grandmother Branscomb's home, where the water was stagnant in the creek. (My (our) grandparents property was later known as the Geiger Ranch) Dad and Carol both became terribly ill, and though dad survive he suffered pain and a limp to the day he died.
At one point while he was going to school at the old grammar school in Laytonville where Weathertop Nursery is now, dad caught his leg in one of the school desk seats. The doctors tried their best to talk my grandmother into allowing them to amputate the leg. He rode his horse to school because he couldn't walk that far. Dad lived a good life though crippled, as a mill owner, fisherman and hunter. "Thank you March Of Dimes."

Cousin Penny

Robin Shelley said...

Hi, Penny! Good to see you here. I miss you! Have you met Spy Rock yet? I tried to push him in your direction. (-:

The injected polio vaccine was the original Salk vaccine which is a killed-virus vac. The sugar cube contained Sabin's live-virus vaccine... the only one in use now, I think. As a kid, I didn't know I was eating live polio... that must have been at least a little scary to people back then!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Hi Penny, What an honor to see you here. I didn't think that you read blogs.

My cousin Penny is a real historian, and knows more than I'll ever know, and she even gets hers facts right.