Our program featured Doylestown Rotarian Carol Ferguson. Carol is a polio survivor who is now suffering from post-polio syndrome. Part of her personal story is featured in the “tough Cookies” article in the September Rotary magazine. In 2014, she co-founded the Pennsylvania Polio Survivors Network. This all-volunteer advocacy organization shares people’s stories, provides information about post-polio syndrome, and lobbies legislators to increase awareness of the need to prevent infectious diseases through immunization.
Her overall message is that vaccines work. Not just for polio, but for many preventable diseases. Here in the United States, we often think of infectious diseases as a third world problem. We have done so well in preventing diseases it has led to an increasing number of people believing that vaccines are unnecessary and, perhaps, dangerous. Many people have never seen the ravaging effects of these diseases. The Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder for people old enough to remember the polio days. The lack of vaccinations has been listed as one of the ten biggest threats to global health.
The issue of vaccinations is a highly personal one. No parent wants to put their child at risk. Bombarding anti-vaxxers and hesitant parents with information doesn’t work and can even backfire. Carol’s organization wants to put access to information into the hands of new parents. They have developed a post card that lists resources. They hope that Pennsylvania pediatricians will distribute the cards to every new parent. So far, the response from doctors has been extremely positive. The cards are produced with funds from donations from Rotary Clubs and individuals. Carol and other polio survivors know all too well how the pain and disability from a disease can last a lifetime. The work they are doing will help ensure that no child will suffer from a preventable disease.