Polio struck a friend of mine prior to elementary school. Every day I, or another schoolchild, would hold one heavy crutch while she labored to climb the eight steps to the first-floor classroom. She had heavy braces on both legs, and this unpleasant ritual took about 15 minutes each time. Once up the steps, she did not leave the classroom until 3 p.m.

No recess for her. She stayed inside while the other children jumped rope and played ball. Sadly, the disability was permanent, and she died as a young adult.

When the polio vaccine became available in the early 1960s, I remember waiting in long lines with my mother, aunt and cousins. What I noticed was how joyous and relieved the parents were. Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin were the rock stars of their time, freeing parents from the constant worry and dread of losing a child to polio.

Additionally, surviving polio as a family was exhausting with the increased financial and emotional demands that a severe disability brings to a family of five or six, as was common in the 1960s.

So, if you enjoy jogging, skiing, dancing or, more humbly, walking to the toilet by yourself, vote “no” on 1! Vaccines save lives and lifestyles, too.

Anna Stankiewicz


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