Ukraine … Covid, Invasion and now … POLIO. Why vaccinations matter?

by Kerry Cue

During an invasion, Ukraine is also dealing with an outbreak of Polio with 2 cases of child paralysis, over 19 other cases and less that 40% of the population vaccinated against the virus. (NBCnews, 22 FEB 2022)

The one case in the world that demonstrates the importance of vaccinations is June Middleton. Born in Melbourne in 1926 she contracted Polio as a 22-year-old in 1949 before vaccines became available in Australia. She spent the next 60 years in an iron lung until her death in 2009. She has her own Wikipedia page and holds the Guinness World record for the longest time spent in an iron lung. I am familiar with her story because I interviewed (Lady) Marigold Southey, a Melbourne philanthropist and charity worker, who drove a Red Cross Ambulance for 30 years taking June and other Polio patients out of the hospital for brief periods on portable iron lungs called ‘chestys’.

My generation, the Baby Boomers, can remember kids who suffered from Diphtheria, Polio and/or Whooping Cough. The last Polio Epidemic in Australia was 1956 when the first Salk vaccine was introduced followed by the oral Sabin vaccine in 1966. A deactivated Polio virus vaccine was introduced in 2005.

Nevertheless, I’m sure, like me, most of my generation would be shocked to learn there were Polio victims in hospital until 2009. 

Here is a pre-pandemic post I wrote in 2014. We, in Australia, can only be thankful that we had access to these vaccines and we can only hope the Ukrainians survive their current and tragic troubles.

What’s your poison …. Botox, flu shots or designer drugs?

As kids many of us Baby Boomers caught the common childhood diseases including  measles, german measles, mumps and, definitely, Chicken Pox. In Melbourne, in the 1950s, my next door neighbour Roy had TB.   My friend Lynette had suffered polio.

Sibylesque girliron lung

It is not surprising then that most of us are pro-vaccination. For those in doubt look here. This is a You Tube clip posted by the Mayo Clinic of a baby with Whooping Cough. Parents of a baby afflicted with such a terrible disease as Whooping Cough say they would do anything to help their little baby, but it is too late.

So what vaccinations might be appropriate for our 50+ age group?

Flu shots.

Pneumonia Vaccination especially if you are prone to respiratory diseases.

And, the latest, SHINGLES SHOTS. (One of my neighbours, who caught Covid before vaccines were available,  then suffered a serious bout of Shingles in 2022.)

Shingles is a very painful condition caused by the Chicken Pox virus that lays dormant in the nerve roots near the spine of anyone who ever had the disease. According to the AMA the ‘risk and severity of the condition increases markedly with age’. The American-made vaccine, Zostavax , has been approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) for use by Australians aged 50 years or older. The vaccine has not been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule yet so a Shingles Shot is expensive (Around $200), but it is a price any shingles sufferer would gladly pay if they could.

Finally, we often get Top Up shots, especially new grandmothers, for the standard vaccinations we had in our youth including measles, mumps and so on. You would need to consult your medical practitioner for further information.

Photo: Unknown Source