Trying to rid the world of polio

Clearwater will have generated anti-polio vaccine for 1,000 children.

Hazel Wadlegger has her pinkie painted for Polio immunization while attending the Rotary convention for District 5060 held in Yakima

Hazel Wadlegger has her pinkie painted for Polio immunization while attending the Rotary convention for District 5060 held in Yakima

On World Polio Day, Oct. 24, members of Clearwater Rotary set up a table outside Safety Mart and Ursula Schaer lined up a variety of colours of nail polish plus fancy sprinkles.

As had occurred at the Canoe Regatta, people (a few brave men among them) had one or more fingernails painted. On learning that each vaccine costs only $0.60, many pulled out loose change to add to already generous donations. These, counting both occasions, came up to almost $550, which the Rotary Club rounded up to $600. Better still, this will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thus Clearwater will have generated anti-polio vaccine for 1,000 children.

Officially called Poliomyelitis, it has also been known as infantile paralysis because of the way the body is affected. Historically, iron lungs kept people alive by keeping their chests moving so they were breathing.

Just a few countries are still fighting this dreaded childhood disease, including Afghanistan, parts of the Middle East and mid-Eastern Africa. However, the flight of refugees in war-torn parts of the world makes it difficult to keep track of children who have not yet been vaccinated.

When young people approached Rotary’s fingernail-painting table, they were first asked if they knew what polio was. A surprising number did not know a thing about it.

The idea is of this ongoing project, led by Rotary (since 1985), UNICEF, and the World Health Organization, is to wipe out this debilitating disease completely. And that happy prospect is “This close…” says Rotary International’s worldwide ad campaign.