Middlebury Rotary marks World Polio Day; the disease’s eradication has been a global Rotary mission for decades

Members of the Middlebury Rotary Club raise awareness about the worldwide effort to eradicate polio with a sign in Court Square this past Saturday.

MIDDLEBURY — Local Rotarians were out on Middlebury’s Court Square last Saturday, a damp, cool fall day, to mark World Polio Day and bring attention to another virus that has plagued the world since the early 1800s. The coronavirus is our current epidemic, but polio still cripples and kills around the world.
Rotary, along with partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has managed to reduce polio cases by 99% worldwide since Rotary’s first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979. Rotarians have helped immunize more than 2 billion children against polio in 122 countries, including two members of the Rotary Club of Middlebury who have helped immunize children in India.
Rotary International and Rotary’s thousands of local clubs around the world have been working to eradicate polio for more than 35 years, and they’ve made enormous progress in the fight to rid the world of it forever; only a handful of countries still have large caseloads. But, as we are learning again, eradicating a virus requires vigilance and long-term monitoring and follow-up.
It’s crucial to eradicate polio from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the last two countries where it remains endemic, and to keep other countries polio-free. If all eradication efforts stopped today, within 10 years, polio could paralyze as many as 200,000 children each year, Rotary officials tell us.
Rotary and partners are close to eradicating polio, but they’re not done, and still need funds to continue immunization and surveillance efforts. Gift will get the effort closer to the finish line. Learn what you can do to help at, and consider joining the Rotary Club of Middlebury, where folks commit themselves to putting service before self.

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