Poliomyelitis is making a comeback. Israel reported in March that a 3-year-old child was paralyzed. Ukraine had two cases in late 2021.

Health experts warn that interruption in vaccination of children could lead to outbreaks of polio within the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has slackened our immunization of children with childhood polio vaccinations.

 It takes only one traveler with polio to bring the disease to the United States. People most at risk are those who never had polio vaccine and those who never received all the recommended doses. The best way to keep the United States polio-free is to maintain high immunity (protection) against polio in the population through vaccination.

 Support organizations making a difference. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative began in 1988, when about 350,000 children were paralyzed by the virus each year. This work produced astounding results and by 2016 the number of polio cases in the world was 42.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national partners with the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. (https://polioeradication.org/financing/donate/).

 Spread the word that polio is a global disease that has to be fought on our own shores. Some people who have only stomach flu-like/fever symptoms may not be aware they are infected with polio and transfer the virus to others.

 Combat the mistruths fostering dangerous health futures for children of the world. Mistrust of vaccination leads to lower rates of vaccination. Friends and family can assist parents to understand the polio vaccination schedule and get kids to appointments. People who have lived through polio epidemics and speak about how polio crippled kids are in the best position to educate vaccine-hesitant parents.


Susan L. Schoenbeck, MSN, RN is a nurse educator for Walla Walla University. She is the author of “Polio Girl” (June 2022).)Marny Eulberg, M.D., is a family physician and educator serving on the board of directors of Post-Polio Health International. Both writers contracted polio as children before the polio vaccination was available.