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Did You Have Sugar Cubes or Shots?
I had sugar cubes when they were rolling out the polio vaccine, in 1962 or 1963, in eighth or ninth grade.
I was happy to take the sugar cube. It was so much more pleasant than a shot.
It never occurred to me to ask:
- Why is it ok to eat medicine when all my other serious medicine came in shots?
- Why couldn’t I eat sugar cubes for all my vaccinations?
Did you eat sugar cubes with polio vaccine in them?
They reached their height in the 1940s and 1950s.
In 1952, the disease hit its peak, with 21,000 cases in the U.S. I was five.
How Do You Get Polio?
I had not been swimming at a public pool for several years by the time I had the vaccine, out of fear that polio was being spread through public pools.
It is now known that polio is transmitted from one person to another through poop.
Not washing your hands after going to the bathroom or drinking contaminated water are the biggest transmission sources.
Changing diapers, sharing foods or eating utensils and exposure to sewage water with polio are all ways polio can be transmitted.
At least one report also relates the onset of polio to a high consumption of sugar and starches.
A nutrition researcher’s tests in 1948 suggested a diet high in sugar and starches, and its commensurate leeching of calcium from cells, preceded the onset of polio.
Summertime, when polio was rampant, was also when children drank sweet drinks and ate ice cream.
Dr. Benjamin Sandler’s demonstration in Asheville, North Carolina, where the predicted number of polio cases was halved after citizens were urged to adopt the low-sugar diet, appeared to support this theory.
However, with the invention of the vaccines, the influence of diet was overwhelmed with a means to prevent polio’s outbreak by mass immunization.
When Was Polio Eliminated?
The last case of polio acquired in the U.S. was in 1979.
In 1985, Rotary International made it the mission of its worldwide service organization to end polio.
By 1988, the worldwide effort to eliminate polio was led by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Rotary International.
Europe was declared polio free in 2002.
There are now about 1,000 cases a year in the world, from a peak of hundreds of thousands.
Between 2,001 and 2,010, there were a low of 483 cases and a high of 1,997 cases of polio annually, in from 9 to 23 countries.
In 2006, only four countries had polio contracted internally. In the other 13, it was imported.
In 2011, there were 650 cases of polio, reported in 16 countries.
That same year, India had its first polio-free year.
What Was the Difference Between the Sugar Cube and Inoculation?
Beside the difference in how it was administered, sugar cube or shot, there was another difference between the two vaccines.
The Salk vaccine, introduced first, in 1958, uses a killed polio virus. Tests showed the killed virus stimulated people’s immune system to resist polio.
The Sabin vaccine, the one using a sugar cube, was introduced in 1962 and was made available for general use in 1963.
It used a live virus that was considerably weakened.
Tests showed the Sabin vaccine not only stimulated the immune system to resist polio, as the Salk vaccine did, it helped convey immunity to people who had not been vaccinated through the same sources of contamination that spread polio.
Its easy administration and secondary effect in protecting unvaccinated populations made it the vaccine of choice until 2000.
In 2000, however, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had accumulated enough cases of illness related to the live, Sabin vaccine, that they changed their recommendation back to the killed virus Salk vaccine.
Click here if you want to help Rotary International end polio in our lifetime.
Do you remember the sugar cubes?
Do you know anyone who had polio?
What did your parents do to protect you from polio?
To you and protecting the health of your grandchildren.
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Did You Have Sugar Cubes or Shots?