“If there’s a virus anywhere in the world, it could just come back in.”

Gizmodo: The Last of the Iron Lungs. “In 2013, the Post-Polio Health International (PPHI) organizations estimated that there were six to eight iron lung users in the United States. Now, PPHI executive director Brian Tiburzi says he doesn’t know anyone alive still using the negative-pressure ventilators. This fall, I met three polio survivors who depend on iron lungs. They are among the last few, possibly the last three.” Includes a 7:00min video.

“But another thing they all had in common is a desire for the next generations to know about them so we’ll realize how fortunate we are to have vaccines. “When children inquire what happened to me, I tell them the nerve wires that tell my muscles what to do were damaged by a virus,” Mona [Randolph] said. “And ask them if they have had their vaccine to prevent this. No one has ever argued with me.”

[Paul] Alexander told me that if he had kids he would have made sure they were vaccinated. “Now, my worst thought is that polio’s come back,” he said. “If there’s so many people who’ve not been—children, especially—have not been vaccinated… I don’t even want to think about it.”

[Martha] Lillard is heartbroken when she meets anti-vaccine activists. “Of course, I’m concerned about any place where there’s no vaccine,” she said. “I think it’s criminal that they don’t have it for other people and I would just do anything to prevent somebody from having to go through what I have. I mean, my mother, if she had the vaccine available, I would have had it in a heartbeat.””

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I remember the posters in doctor’s offices during my childhood: Schluckimpfung ist süß – Kinderlähmung ist grausam. (Translation: Oral vaccination is sweet, polio is cruel.)

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