Bringing ‘Purple Pinkie Day’ To Local Schools Today

By ALISON PANNELL
ROTARY CLub of Los Alamos

What is Purple Pinkie Day? It is an effort by the Rotary Club of Los Alamos to support Rotary International Foundations Polio Plus Program for the eradication of Polio worldwide.

For as little as 60 cents worth of vaccine, a child can be protected against this crippling disease for life. Therefore, in an effort to raise awareness and encourage participation, our local Rotary Club is asking for your support at a “Purple Pinkie” Day that is aimed at the students of our community. 

Why Purple Pinkie? Every time a child is immunized, their pinkies are colored purple with Gentian Violet to show that they are safe from this horrendous disease. Highly infectious, polio causes paralysis and is sometimes fatal. As there is no cure, the best protection is prevention.

When is “Purple Pinkie Day”? Oct. 24 is World Polio Day so we will hold the event Monday, Oct. 24. Parents and guardians of elementary school children will find information and a Parent Permission slip coming home as the event date nears. 

How can your child participate? Essentially, for every $1 a student contributes, Rotarians will paint that student’s pinkie finger tip with Gentian Violet. Gentian Violet is an antiseptic dye with mild anti-bacterial properties that is safely used around the world to treat minor skin infections.

What is Rotary’s role? Rotary Internationals effort to address Polio Eradication started in the Philippines in 1979 with a 5 year commitment to immunize 6 million children. By the early 1980s, Rotary began planning for the most ambitious program in its history — to immunize all of world’s children against polio.

Initially its role was that of a catalyst, providing money for vaccine and volunteer support to overcome problems associated with distribution. In more recent years, Polio Plus funds have funded transportation and other operational costs associated with vaccine delivery, surveillance efforts (including laboratory needs) to identify areas where the virus circulates, and training for healthcare workers and volunteers involved in the immunization process.

In 1995, Rotary launched a task force to advocate political and financial support for polio eradication to donor governments. Then in 2000, Rotary teamed with the United Nations Foundation to carry a financial appeal to the private sector. Other strategic partners have joined us, such as Unicef, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (that now matches $2 for every $1 we donate).

Since those early days, we have reduced polio cases by a staggering 99% worldwide and there are only two endemic countries left, Pakistan and Afghanistan. However with the dire conflict situations in these countries, and with new reports of polio amongst refugees, immunization is severely curtailed and outbreaks are now being reported more frequently. The war is not yet won. 

It is such an important task to prevent Polio from raising its head again. Ignoring it forces us to face the potential consequences of a new polio pandemic that could disable millions of children within a decade. We do hope we can count on you for your support Monday, Oct. 24 during the lunch hour. Please encourage your student to participate by donating to this valuable cause.

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 more than 200 countries and geographical areas. 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. For more information, visit Rotary.org.

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