Access to vaccines has changed lives and protects our children from crippling diseases such as polio.  Dr Margaret speaks about her experience as a child and how important immunisation is today.

There was no vaccine for polio until 1955. There was no vaccine for tetanus until after I was born, 1943. There was no measles, chicken pox, mumps, so it was every child for itself.

I got polio when I was 4 and I was in kinder and they closed the whole area down. In an epidemic 1 in 200 kids gets paralysed by polio but it presents as gastro-enteritis, so many of us went undiagnosed.
I  became diagnosed because my paralysis increased over a 6 week period. At the end of that period I was no longer infectious but the virus had done the damage destroying the connection between my spinal cord and the muscle cells. And then you get the stronger muscles pulling bones out of place, and then you get the curves wrists, scoliosis and that sort of thing.

Well I wasn’t allowed to go to school because the schools nearby that took my siblings said that I would upset the children by appearing in a wheelchair. Remember that was a time when people with a disability or any sort of problem were kept at home.

Vaccinations can save so many lives, they can prevent disability, they can prevent a person from ever having to live in a wheelchair, from them ever having to take medication for the rest of their lives. 
Most people have never seen the diseases that vaccines protect them or their children against, or the lifelong effects that they can have.

Why on earth would you not save your child the experience of disability, why wouldn’t you vaccinate?

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services

Last updated: April 2016

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