Reader view: How you can support World Polio Day Oct. 24

Most of us are too young to remember what a world being ravished by polio was like. But in the 1940s and ’50s, polio either paralyzed or killed over half a million people. There is no cure, only eradication.

Why talk about this now, polio is eradicated, right? Almost. We are so close. The annual number of wild poliovirus cases has declined by more than 99.9% worldwide from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 when the Global Polio Eradication initiative was launched.

Today, there are only two wild polio-endemic countries left: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Without polio eradication efforts, more than 18 million people who are currently healthy would have been paralyzed by the virus.

Closer to home, the CDC announced in September that polioviruses found in New York meet the WHO’s criteria for circulating vaccine derived poliovirus (cVDPV), meaning that poliovirus continues to be transmitted in Rockland County, N.Y. and surrounding areas.

Rotary has contributed more than $2 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize more than 3 billion children in 122 countries. In addition, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in donor governments’ decisions to contribute more than $10 billion to the effort.

The United States now joins a list of about 30 other countries where cVDPVs have been identified. Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus occurs when local immunity to poliovirus is low enough to allow prolonged transmission of the original weakened virus in the oral polio vaccine (which the U.S. does not use). As the virus circulates and more genetic changes occur, the virus can regain its ability to infect the central nervous system and cause paralysis.

As long as polio exists anywhere, it is a threat everywhere. This is not the time to let up the fight — but to fight even harder.

Please join Edmonds Rotary as we work within our global system to continue toward eradication. Any community member who donates $50 or more will receive this EndPolioNow pin so you can show your pride in helping eradicate polio — forever. Every dollar raised is triple-matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For more information, visit

To make a donation and receive your pin, contact Maggie Peterson at

— By Maggie Peterson

Maggie Peterson is an Edmonds resident and a member of the Edmonds Rotary Club.

  1. My dad had polio as a child. He nearly died, spent time in and iron long, and lived with a tremor on one side for the rest of his life. This disease is truly horrifying. We need to do everything possible to eradicate it. If you or your children have not been vaccinated, please do it now. It is resurging and it needs to be stopped.

    1. @Maret Syberg. So sorry to hear that Polio touched your family in such a profound way. I hope you can join Edmonds Rotary in our quest to eradicate this terrible disease from the planet. We are so close, but we need to keep up the fight. Here is a link: where you will find a donate button.

      1. Thank you Maggie. Will do. Dad was in an iron lung, not an iron long. My typing isn’t what it used to be. 🙂

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