Saturday, September 12, 2009

When Did the Spectre of Polio Depart from Ypsilanti?

It's hard for persons Dusty Diary's age and younger to imagine the fear that infantile paralysis, or polio, caused in the city in the 1950s. Beyer Hospital treated local polio victims, and this article from the summer of 1960 indicates that this year is the first one in which the county did not have any reported cases. In the previous year, says the article, 164 persons were stricken with the disease, 90 per cent of them kids under 10 years old.

The article continues, "A new immunization law requires all children entering school for the first time, unless parents object on religious grounds, to present proof of immunization against polio, diptheria, whooping cough, smallpox, and tetanus.

"'Polio reaches its peak in August,j' [Washtenaw County health director] Dr. Engelke points out. 'So if children are started on the vaccine right now, the two shots they will receive before then will give them a lot of protection.'"

It's frightening to imagine a time when children were not routinely vaccinated, and Michigan is one of 20 states that still allow parents to forgo any or all vaccinations. Thanks to those that did get the vaccine, polio is almost unknown today, though its legacy lingers: Post-Polio Syndrome still affects some Michigan polio survivors today.


Anonymous said...

What terrifies me is that some parents still believe that vaccinations cause autism, despite many studies that say this simply isn't true. It doesn't help that "celebrities" like Jenny McCarthy run around and crow about how bad vaccinations are. It actually terrifies me even more than anyone would listen to her...I remember her on the MTV game show, farting for all the world to see. If you are taking medical advice from her, please do me a favor and don't breed. Thank you.

Dusty D said...

I'm personally concerned with the elderly in our community who may never have received these vaccines to begin with. If herd immunity goes down, they are at risk, on the bus, in the grocery store, &c.