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Today is World Polio Day! Show Your Support to End the Fight!

Today, October 24th, there is a worldwide recognition of World Polio Day. At its peak, polio paralyzed and killed up to half a million people every year, before Jonas Salk invented a vaccine in 1955 (IPV). The Salk vaccine inactivated polio rapidly and cut polio transmission in the United States, from 20,000 cases per year in the 1950s to around 1000 cases by the 1960s.

Some Scandinavian countries relied exclusively on IPV to stop transmission, the first indication that immunization could defeat the disease.

In 1961 oral polio vaccine (OPV) was invented by Dr Albert Sabin and introduced in the United States. Sabin’s strategy was to give OPV to all children under five (two doses spaced 4-6 weeks apart).

From 1963 the United States was using OPV in mass polio campaigns and by 1979 transmission was stopped.

Throughout the 60s and 70s, similar mass campaigns in developing countries, most notably in Mexico, Brazil and Cuba, proved polio could also be stopped in these settings.

These campaigns are still the cornerstone of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s strategy to end polio.

In 1979, Rotary International became involved with polio when it committed to providing OPV to six million children in the Philippines.

Spurred by the success of the program in this and other poor countries, Rotary worked with Dr. Sabin on a plan to immunize all children against polio. This gave rise to Rotary’s PolioPlus program in 1985.

Also in 1985, the Universal Childhood Immunization Initiative was launched jointly by UNICEF and WHO, with the aim of reducing child mortality through effective immunization. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) immediately launched an initiative to eradicate polio in the Americas by 1990.

On the 40th anniversary of the United Nations (October 1985), Rotary announced a $120 million pledge to its PolioPlus program. This funded a core group of polio experts at WHO who continue to guide the global program. The global community was now on alert that polio could be stopped and the funds to begin the fight had been made available.

Now, over 2.5 billion children are immunized against polio in the first several months of their lives.

Today, at 6:30pm CST, Rotary will be holding a live-streamed event for a global update on the war against polio. However, in the meantime, it’s requested that you sign the End Polio Now Petition to show world leaders the importance of providing the funds necessary to end polio’s existence. The live-streamed event will include Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, polio survivors, celebrity ambassadors, and other special guests.

Whether you choose to educate one another about the importance of immunizing children or simply sign the petition, in order to end polio, the world needs your support and help!

Support World Polio Day today, October 24th! To catch up on the latest from The Maria Sanchez Show, download the latest podcast today!

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