Press release - Whitby, ON  (March 2, 2015) As part of a National Immunization Day aimed at vaccinating over 172 million children under the age of 5 across India, a Whitby couple joined a Rotary International team of volunteers from Canada, Switzerland, Australia and the United States to give Polio vaccinations in rural India in late February. This team and others of international volunteers from Japan, Britain, Belgium and France joined local volunteers and health officials to carry out the two day national campaign.

Rotary Club of Whitby Sunrise member, Brian Thompson (2014/2015 District 7070 Governor), and his wife, Karen, traveled with their team to Nuh, Haryana, India about 70 km from Delhi. Nuh is a predominately Muslim community which endures ongoing poverty and lack of basic public services.
The vaccination is administered by two simple drops on the tongue. Someone with no medical experience can provide this form of immunization. This unskilled form of vaccination is crucial to keeping polio at bay because so many more people can volunteer to administer it.
Karen Thompson, a retired nurse, commented, “Just two drops of vaccine and we can protect a child from polio.”

National Imunization Day's help with the promise to eradicate polio

Polio is a life-threatening and crippling virus, which largely attacks children under the age of five years of age. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours. There is no cure for it but it can be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life.
Rotary made the promise in 1985 to eradicate polio from the world. At that time there were 125 endemic countries. Now there are just three: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Brian Thompson said: “It is amazing to think that since making the pledge in 1985 to eradicate polio, Rotarians have worked together with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more recently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to battle the disease all over the world. Traveling to India and working with Indian Rotarians illustrates how important it is to be involved in community projects that are not just on your doorstep.”
“It’s hard to comprehend that people in Pakistan are being murdered for what we did in India,” added Karen.
Eradication efforts in Pakistan have been hit by opposition from militants and attacks on immunization teams that have claimed 71 lives since December 2012.
Although India was declared free from the disease last year, there is still the real risk of re-infection from the high number of cases found in nearby Pakistan, so it is essential that high levels of immunization are maintained.
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. There are two Rotary clubs in Whitby and more than 700 across Canada. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.
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Brian and Karen Thompson
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS are © 2015 by BRIAN THOMPSON, and may be used for news purposes.
NID-1:  Polio vaccine Thompsons in India: Whitby Sunrise Rotarian Brian Thompson gives polio vaccine drops to a young child in the rural, largely Muslim village of Nuh, Haryana, India.
NID-2:  Polio vaccine Thompsons in India: Karen and Brian Thompson relax for a moment with a local health worker during a recent National Immunization Day in India.