Purple Pinkie Day Coming To Los Alamos!


 As world health officials struggle to respond to the Ebola epidemic, Pakistan has passed a grim milestone in its efforts to combat another major global health crisis: the fight against polio. 

Los Alamos Public Schools has generously agreed to support Rotary’s effort to raise awareness and funds to counter polio. Hopefully, the community and its children will wish to participate and wear their “purple pinkie” as a badge of honor for saving the life of another child.

To support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, The Rotary Club of Los Alamos is holding an awareness and fundraising event Friday, Oct. 24 throughout the schools. children will be coming home soon with information about Purple Pinkie Day!

So, how are pinkies made purple and what has that got to do with polio? No child in the US has had polio in more than 50 years. And that is because we are very lucky that we have access to vaccines to protect us from many serious diseases. In some poor countries (like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria) many children still get polio because they cannot get polio vaccines to protect them.

So, organizations like Rotary are working hard to get vaccines to those children. Volunteers, like Rotarians, and health workers vaccinate children on the streets and in clinics by giving these children drops to swallow.  Not wanting to give a vaccine more than once on the same day, when the health workers give a vaccine they paint the child’s pinkie purple with an ink that takes days to rub off, so they have a “purple pinkie”. 

One dose of polio vaccine to protect a child against polio costs nearly one dollar. That is very cheap here but there are millions and millions of children in these countries. That means it costs many millions of dollars to protect them. To help protect a child in a poor country from polio, Friday, Oct. 24, for those students who can bring a $1 to school, we will be here to paint pinkies’ purple just like those children (but we won’t give out any vaccine!). The money collected will go directly to buy polio vaccines for children in poorer countries.

Over the past weekend, Pakistan logged its 200th new polio case of 2014, the nation’s highest transmission rate in more than a dozen years, and officials are bracing for potentially dozens of other cases by year’s end. Pakistan now accounts for 80 percent of global cases, and is one of only three countries at risk of exporting the disease outside its borders, according to the World Health Organization. 

Though the United States eradicated polio within its borders by 1979, there remained more than 350,000 cases worldwide as recently as 1988. Over the past two decades, however, the global fight against polio has made enormous strides. The virus remains endemic in only Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Afghanistan has recorded 10 cases this year while Nigeria has recorded six. Because of lackluster vaccination protocols and security, Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon are the only countries at risk of exporting the disease. 


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