When polio vaccine became available, my parents signed the consent form. And I’m grateful

It was 1955 and the polio virus was active. I was in grade school and what I knew about polio was anecdotal.

I knew one of my classmates wore a heavy leg brace and was very slow when reading aloud.

I knew my cousin Johnny, who was several years older than I, couldn’t sit up by himself and was relearning how to walk, talk and eat.

I saw a picture of an iron lung in Life magazine at my grandma’s. I could read well enough to understand the caption, but it didn’t seem logical that a machine could breathe for you while you laid flat on your back. How did you eat? How did you go to the bathroom?

But my parents knew more and understood better than I did. When the polio vaccine became available, they signed the consent form, and I was soon marching through the auditorium at Teutopolis Grade School to be immunized for polio.

There was no chatter about the right to refuse the vaccine. My parents understood that responsibilities are inescapable companions to all human rights. Because they were responsible parents, they decided that warding off this viral-born paralysis was an essential health benefit to me, my classmates and the Teutopolis community.

Sixty-five years later, I am very grateful they were on the right side of that decision.

In 2085, what will your descendents say about you?

Linda Ruholl, Teutopolis

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