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Vaccines made a scourge go away

Polio was the scourge of summer, the monster waiting in swimming holes and tainted water, the diagnosis mothers feared more than anything. Its menace now a distant memory, decades ago it was a household word, and it was not a good word to hear.

Unlike COVID-19, for which vaccines were developed within a year, polio required years of research. When vaccines were finally available, thousands of residents in Gloucester and Mathews lined up to receive them. Those vaccines have practically eliminated the disease worldwide.

The Centers for Disease Control offers this definition: “Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord …”

With parallels to today’s course of coronavirus infection, according to the CDC, 72 percent of people with the poliovirus never have symptoms, but in some, the effects can be permanent:

“Paralysis is the most severe symptom associ...

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