One hundred years ago, Davenport found itself in the throes of a polio outbreak. Polio rendered 61 infants paralyzed in 1917. These outbreaks struck fear into the hearts of parents around the country and rattled the confidence of all Americans.
Today, we largely consider polio a remnant of the past; something we don’t have to worry about.
However, polio is still a present danger in many locations around the world. In 2017, polio was still considered endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. That means that in these three countries, citizens are living with the same fear that shook Quad-Citizens just over a hundred years ago.
Luckily, there is some good news. Thanks to vaccines, polio cases have dropped 99.9 percent in the last 30 years. We need to support global vaccination efforts that are aiming to make this number 100 percent by eradicating polio from the face of the Earth. U.S. funding for programs like UNICEF, Gavi – the vaccine alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) are vital to the completion of this goal.
Unfortunately, the recently proposed federal budget eliminates all funding to UNICEF, and severely cuts its contributions to Gavi and the WHO. This leaves the possibility for polio to bounce back at the exact moment we can eliminate it. We must act to ensure this crippling disease can never return to Davenport.
With World Immunization Week coming up, now is the time to call your representative or senator and let them know you support programs that help eradicate polio.
Editor's note: Rodriguez is a member of The ImmUNITY Campaign at the University of Iowa and this letter was co-authored by group member Michael Li of Bettendorf