Polio has been eradicated in the United States since 1993, but the disease is still prevalent in many places in the world. This month we observe World Polio Day and can remember when Iowa was on the foreground of vaccine research for this disease. There are still lingering memories of the disease including a young girl in an iron lung at the Jones County Fair fundraising for the cause.
While Polio may be just a distant memory in Iowa, the disease is a reality for many children in the world. One in five children around the world still lack access to basic childhood vaccines today. Children in Iowa were once the great benefactors of vaccines from polio and we should work to spread access to those vaccines to spread to all children.
Over the past 26 years, polio cases have decreased by 99 percent showing great progress. However, four countries the world still are not polio-free, with a re-emergence of polio in the Philippines just this September. By continuing support for childhood vaccines, we can help assure that no child will ever get polio again.
The United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign is asking U.S. legislators to help reduce vaccine-preventable childhood deaths around the world by providing adequate funding for global vaccine programs. To take action you can call Representative Abby Finkenaur and Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to ask them to strengthen and prioritize funding for global vaccine programs through partners such as the United Nations, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), CDC, and USAID.