Ty Morris of Pinon Elementary School supports Purple Pinky Day and efforts to eradicate polio. Photo by Oliver Morris
Students at Aspen Elementary School stand in line to dip their little fingers for Purple Pinky Day, a project hosted by the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. Principal Michele Altherr takes part in the fun. Photo by Linda Hull
In recognition of World Polio Day, Oct. 24, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos recently acknowledged the continuing efforts of Rotary International, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, and the support of many nations to eradicate this crippling disease by hosting a Purple Pinky Day at local elementary schools.
For a one-dollar donation, students dipped their little fingers into harmless, temporary purple dye, just as children in foreign countries do upon receiving the oral vaccine. This designates to healthcare workers that the child has been immunized against polio.
Polio has no cure. It is a crippling and potentially fatal disease, spread by a virus person to person, typically through contaminated water.
Children under the age of five are at the greatest risk. It can attack the nervous system, and in some instances, lead to paralysis. While there is no cure, there is prevention: a safe and effective vaccine – one which Rotary and its partners use to immunize over 2.5 billion children worldwide. Every 75-cents vaccinates one child against polio, and for every $1 raised, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matches with another $2, donating as much as $35 million annually.
Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from more than 350,000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017. This reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease. Today, only three countries in the world have never stopped transmission of polio (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria).