Recently, Corliss Klaassen of the Rotary Club of Chariton did an interview with the Chariton Newspaper about the progress Rotary International has made towards eradicating polio from the world and making it polio free. He also told about how the Rotary Club of Chariton has been involved with this effort.
“In 1985 Rotary International made eliminating polio from the world its #1 goal. As of today, we’re down to just two countries worldwide, Afghanistan and Pakistan. that still have polio. Rotary just recently eliminated polio from Nigeria, which was officially determined to be polio free last year,” Klaassen said.
Since 1985, the Rotary Club of Chariton has contributed $35,000 to the Polio Plus program, which is the Rotary program whose mission is to eradicate polio from the world.
There are five organizations that are working together on eradicating polio worldwide including Rotary International, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did a challenge where for every dollar a Rotarian would contribute towards eradicating polio, the Foundation would contribute $2.
“As a result, the $35,000 the Rotary Club of Chariton contributed to the Polio Plus program ended up being $105,000 because of the $70,000 given in turn by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Klaassen said.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s 2-1 challenge match applied to any donation that any Rotarian worldwide made towards eradicating polio. There are currently 1.2 million Rotarians in the world.
Many Rotarians including ones from Chariton have gone to different countries to administer the polio vaccine. In 2004, Klaassen and his wife Jeanne both went to India to administer polio vaccines, or to give the polio drops as they’re called.
In 2007, the Klaassens along with Bill Tubbs of the North Scott Rotary Club in Eldridge, Iowa, and others went to Nigeria to administer the polio vaccine.
“The difference between COVID-19 and polio is that COVID-19 affects mainly older people and polio affects younger people. When we administered the polio vaccine in India and Nigeria, we gave the polio drops to children five years old and younger,” Klaassen said.
Klaassen also said that it’s important for everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to the general public, just like it was important for people to receive the polio vaccine.