Een leven vol zegeningen dankzij vaccinatie

KAAPSTAD – Een wereld waarin onze kinderen en kleinkinderen kunnen opgroeien, vrij van de dreiging van polio en andere ziekten die voorkomen kunnen worden, is een droom die iedereen deelt. Maar anders dan de meeste dromen kan deze droom ook echt werkelijkheid worden. Tijdens mijn leven heb ik het geluk gehad getuige te zijn geweest van de buitengewone invloed die vaccins hebben gehad op de bescherming van kinderen tegen ziekte en dood – vooral in de ontwikkelingslanden.

Vaccins hebben altijd een speciale betekenis voor mij gehad. Als jong kind in Zuid-Afrika ben ik bijna aan de polio bezweken. Destijds – begin jaren dertig – was er geen vaccin voor deze zeer besmettelijke ziekte. Ouders waren terecht doodsbang dat het poliovirus – net als de pest – bij hen zou aankloppen en een kind zou treffen, om binnen een paar uur een onomkeerbare verlamming te veroorzaken, of – erger nog – binnen een paar dagen de dood.

De artsen zeiden tegen mijn ouders dat er weinig voor mij kon worden gedaan, dus mijn vader begon mijn begrafenis al voor te bereiden. Gelukkig herstelde ik, afgezien van het feit dat ik mijn rechterhand niet meer kon gebruiken. Ik heb een prachtig leven geleid, maar de verlamming van mijn hand herinnert mij er nog dagelijks aan dat we dringend de uitroeiing van het poliovirus moeten nastreven en ervoor moeten zorgen dat alle kinderen toegang hebben tot de vaccins die ze nodig hebben.

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