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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
7:53 AM Sat, Oct. 20th

Marvin's Window: War on polio continuing

I looked out my window this weekend for some good news.

The threat of war, high terror alerts, snow across the East and the nightclub disasters combine for more gloom and doom than my head could handle.

I began filing some papers and cleaning the home office and came across a recent copy of the Rotarian magazine opened to an article "At War With Polio." I did not like the title.

We have been to war on poverty, drugs, dropouts and a lot of other things.

With a real shooting war in Iraq and a war on terrorism threatening the world, the polio program needs a more positive title.

But the results have been spectacular.

Polio is near eradication around the world, thanks to Rotary International in partnership the World Health Organization and UNICEF in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The Rotary International (RI) Polio Plus program has committed to raising $80 million over three years to make up for part of a $275 million worldwide funding shortfall.

Children living in Afghanistan, several warring nations in Africa and across Asia are getting the vaccine.

Much of the world is polio- free, and Polio Plus is in the final stages of wiping polio out in all nations.

Two Kingman Rotary clubs make an impact in the Polio Plus effort by combining efforts with the worldwide RI clubs and the other partners.

It is an old story.

Many people working together can make miracles happen.

Polio has been virtually unknown in this country for so many years that most people under 40 have no idea what kind of fear the disease once spread among children and parents.

Pictures of kids in an iron lung to help them breathe were common on posters.

I grew up when doctors had no idea what caused the spread of polio.

Viruses were barely known and technology to research a virus was not advanced.

My parents were sure that polio was spread from public swimming pools.

Many cities shut down the public pools when the first case of polio hit the community during the summer months.

Panic hit out rural community when all the boys in one family came down with polio about the time I was in grade school.

There was no swimming that summer.

President Franklin D.

Roosevelt was stricken with polio as an adult prior to his 1932 election.

He founded the March of Dimes to fund polio research.

We all pitched in with a few dimes as we could.

Today, the March of Dimes collects money for research and care of children afflicted with birth defects.

Polio is not a threat to children in the United States.

My children were growing up when the first vaccine became available.

I would not let them take the vaccine when it was first offered.

That sounds like a stupid decision today but it may have saved their lives.

Everyone was so eager to get the children in the United States vaccinated that every laboratory capable of producing the vaccine was encouraged to do so.

The vaccine was administered by shots and I just had a hunch to wait until the second round of vaccine became available.

Several children in Idaho and Oregon died from that first round of vaccine.

My first graduate school statistics professor explained how improper sampling of vaccine in labs that produced small quantities led to the deaths.

I paid total attention in all my statistics classes after that.

I also said a big thank you for that hunch that led me to delay the polio vaccination of my children until the second round of vaccines came out.

By that time they could swallow the vaccine and no longer had to endure shots.

Those experiences with the scourge of polio give me extra motivation to support Polio Plus and others in efforts to eliminate polio for all children everywhere.

Other service clubs and community organizations have other programs that contribute to a better life in the local and the worldwide community.

Every small contribution adds to a total effort that makes a difference.

Lake Mead is filled with water that fell one drop at a time across several states.

Combined, the drops flow through Hoover Dam and generate electric power for much of the Southwest.

My little drop of "rain" adds to yours and together we make a difference.

That is good news.