One month ago, I was nervously holding my 2-month-old daughter in my lap at our pediatrician's office in New York City, waiting for her to get her first series of vaccinations. What would have appeared to be a routine visit was, in fact, a huge moment in my life.
Now, during World Immunization Week, as we celebrate the exceptional commitment of mothers worldwide to protect their children, let us also view this as a rallying call. With 1.5 million deaths each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, there is still much work to be done.
The early bird gets the worm. Slow and steady wins the race. For those of us who are parents, these may be familiar sayings that we tell our children to either get them moving, or instead have them slow down.
For those of us who were spared by fate and vaccine, Philip Roth's Nemesis charts polio's course and brings to mind the friends and neighbors who suffered the withering and the life-long incarceration of limbs.
Sixty years ago, Jonas Salk's inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) gave new hope to parents in the U.S. that they could protect their children from what was, at the time, one of the most terrifying diseases facing Americans.
Even for Pakistan-watchers who privilige nuance over sensation, the question of why our country continues to grapple with a disease that has been preventable for over half a century, certainly begs an answer.
February 11 marked six months since the onset of the last confirmed case of wild poliovirus on the African continent. That is longer than at any time in recorded history. There is now a chance that we are on the verge of a historic achievement in global health: an Africa free of wild poliovirus.
Vaccines only work if we maintain our determination to provide their benefits to our children. When it comes to preventable disease, misinformation can be as deadly, if not more so than the disease itself, both here and abroad.
We are already midway through the first month of the 2015 -- and more importantly, midway through the Decade of Vaccines. With much to accomplish, I compiled a quick list of the 10 advances in global health and vaccinations I would like to see in 2015.
ll the calls for more international action are most welcome. But we cannot forget that ultimately it is not the CDC or experimental drug companies that will overcome the disease. It will be Africans who will win this war on the ground.
When I see crowded pools, I always think that such a photo could never have been taken when I was a child in the 1940s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because all our mothers forbade us to gather in groups for fear of catching polio -- especially in a pool.