Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Salk

NPR is running a story today on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jonas Salk.

I'm old enough to remember being lined up as a kindergartener and everyone getting a sugar cube with the polio vaccine (which was the Sabine vaccine, I realize).


I'm of an age where I remember no one from my generation having polio, but one of my aunts had had it (and survived, not too badly affected).

Thank you, Jonas Salk.  And thank you to all the researchers who developed vaccines, and all the kids who were tested, and all the parents who enrolled their kids to be tested, and to my parents who made sure I was vaccinated, and to my school district that made sure we were all vaccinated.


Yep, I got my flu vaccine for the year a couple of weeks ago now.  I don't think I've ever had the real flu, and I'm fine with missing that experience!

3 comments:

  1. I took my major field exam (8 hours written) with the flu. I knew my advisor was grading one question and I remember typing, as a footnote I think, an apology for the slight incoherence at the end of the essay. Afterwards I was delirious (which I've never been before or since). That was weird... I woke up from a fever dream babbling about how Joyce Appleby on capitalism was responsible for the Jerky Boys movie, which had just come out (and convinced my boyfriend at the time that I wasn't kidding about not wanting to see that movie). I've had milder flus since, but nothing like that.

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  2. One of my acquaintances in middle school had gotten polio in her birth-country. I hope someday we are able to completely eradicate it.

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  3. I know several people (a half-generation to generation older than I) who survived polio, but/and have post-polio syndrome (basically, as I understand it, problems with the muscles that were originally affected by polio that show up years later). Both have had fairly major operations to try to correct some of the problems; though they've managed to live full lives, the disease definitely has lasting effects, and can add significantly to the usual problems of middle to old age. I know my own parents' summer activities were often affected by closings of various facilities due to polio. I'm pretty sure I got the vaccine (I think it was a syrupy liquid in a sort of ampule that got broken onto my extended tongue) and vaguely remember my mother explaining what a wonderful thing it was that we wouldn't have to worry about polio (and I don't have many memories of that period in my life, so it must have made an impression).

    I'm also vaccinated against smallpox (with the evidence -- the round scar -- somewhat hidden toward the back of my inner arm; I remember those scars being visible on most people in the summer when people wore sleeveless blouses and swimsuits, but for whatever reason my pediatrician tried to hide his handiwork; maybe by that time the danger was low enough that the aesthetics vs. safety tradeoff was less clear, or the value of being visibly protected less?). I don't believe that's done anymore, now that smallpox is eradicated in the wild (and I remember, around the time of the post-9/11 anthrax scares, some talk about who would and wouldn't be immune should terrorists get hold of smallpox somehow).

    And I need to get my flu shot. So, yes, thanks to Jonas Salk, and to all who created vaccines, and continue to work on creating new ones (and to all who make use of them, not only protecting themselves and their children, but also helping to protect others through herd immunity).

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