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The difference immunization makes

The difference immunization makes

I have two stories to tell, the first is my mothers', and the second is mine.

My mother was a nurse. She had personal experience with polio in the 1940's; she had polio herself. She did have some paralysis and missed a year of school. However she did heal and was able to train as an RN after high school. She was a young nurse in the early 1950's and nursed at Calgary General Hospital during the Polio epidemic. Because she had survived polio she was not worried about getting it, but the work was hard and she was limping at the end of her shifts (and trying to hide the fact). There were hot compresses to apply to muscles, so it was brute work often. She watched her former prom date die (married with young children) and many others she knew or had gotten to know. When news came that there was a vaccine, she said the nurses danced in the corridors.  She was so glad as she was pregnant with me. My siblings and I knew her stories but never the active disease. I did meet a few people crippled by polio in my youth, and my mom developed some post polio syndrome in her later years.

I began my nursing career in 1977 and began working in Pediatrics a year later. I saw children infected with HIB (Haemophilus Influenza B) and I took care of them. I "specialed" (provided one on one care) a number of babies with HIB meningitis.  Although the babies I worked with survived, I heard the stories of those that did not. I saw a toddler survive but be left blind and impaired physically. I also saw HIB pneumonia and neck abcesses. It was not a fun time for young children and their families. When I got married and had my own children it was a concern that one of my babies could get this awful disease. So when my third child was born in 1987, there was now a vaccine against HIB! I also felt like dancing. I have worked off and on in Pediatrics over the  years, and realized a few years ago that in ten years I had only seen one case of HIB. This to me shows so clearly that immunization works!

Last modified: 
Oct 26, 2017

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