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Freedom and fond memories after vaccination

I can still remember waiting in line as a young boy with my elementary school classmates to receive a polio vaccine. I remember it being a “big deal” in my family, and the vaccine was unique in that I received one of the oral vaccines contained in a sugar cube.

As an adult, I understood more about why my parents thought of the vaccine as a “big deal.” I began to meet people in my age bracket or older who suffered from polio as a child — including a very close friend of mine. The effects from polio were all too real for those people, whose lives were forever impacted by the disease.

At that same time, I was joining Rotary, where my familiarity with polio grew even more. For decades now, Rotary clubs worldwide have joined forces to eradicate the disease. At various times, the world has come close to that objective, but polio exists today still in three countries — Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Last week, my good friend, Steve Wright, of WATZ, reminded Rotarians that it was on March 26, 1953, that American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on a national radio show that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio.

Wright said that, in 1952 (an epidemic year for polio), there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. Dr. Salk became a national hero for promising eventually to eradicate the disease, which mainly affected children.

The world was certainly different then than it is now, but my how our views have changed regarding immunizations. Today, the “anti-vax” movement is much more prevalent, and skepticism much more paralyzing.

I thought a lot about that polio sugar cube vaccination this week as I waited in line to get my second vaccination shot against the coronavirus. Receiving that immunization will remain a moment etched in my mind for the rest of my life. Just like I remember that polio immunization, so will I remember my first and second COVID-19 immunizations.

After 12 months of dealing with COVID-19 concerns around every corner, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I realize the need still exists for caution and common sense, but I also understand my chances of surviving COVID-19 should I get the disease have increased substantially because of the two immunizations.

Truth be told, I feel a new sense of freedom.

Like most things today, I understand that readers have a whole range of different opinions regarding the vaccines and the need for them.

That is fine, and I respect whatever opinion you might hold.

I just know that, for me, I can feel more comfortable from this point on being with family, holding and playing with my grandchildren, and visiting with friends who I haven’t seen for quite some time. I feel somewhat like what my one granddaughter would call a “super hero,” with an immunization force field around me at the moment.

I feel like I did when I was kid, back in elementary school.

And you know what? That feeling, I have to admit, is pretty darn good right about now.

Thank you to those who made this feeling possible.

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