Vaccinazioni, un beneficio che vale una vita

CITTÀ DEL CAPO – Un mondo in cui i nostri figli e i loro figli crescano liberi dalla minaccia della poliomielite e di altre malattie prevenibili è un sogno che tutti condividono. A differenza della maggior parte dei sogni, però, questo si può realizzare. Nel corso della mia vita, ho avuto la fortuna di essere testimone dello straordinario ruolo che i vaccini hanno avuto nel proteggere i bambini dalle malattie e dalla morte, soprattutto nei Paesi in via di sviluppo.

I vaccini hanno sempre avuto un significato speciale per me. Da bambino, in Sud Africa, sono stato sul punto di morire a causa della poliomielite. Allora - parliamo dei primi anni del 1930 - non esisteva alcun vaccino per questa malattia altamente infettiva. Ovunque, e a ragione, i genitori avevano il terrore che il virus della poliomielite bussasse alla loro porta, come la peste, colpendo uno dei loro figli e causandogli una paralisi irreversibile nel giro di ore o, ancor peggio, la morte nel giro di pochi giorni.

I medici dissero ai miei genitori che ormai c'era poco da fare, e così mio padre si era preparato a celebrare il mio funerale. Per fortuna, mi rimisi completamente, tranne che per l'uso della mano destra. Da allora ho avuto una vita meravigliosa, ma la mia mano paralizzata continua a ricordarmi ogni giorno che dobbiamo urgentemente agire per debellare la poliomielite e far sì che tutti i bambini abbiano accesso ai vaccini di cui hanno bisogno.

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