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These web pages are the archives of meetings of the
Polio NZ Waikato Support Group
from 2001 to 2016

There will be no new posts from November 2016
For up-to-date info, please check the Polio NZ website or facebook page


On April 8, 9, and 10 the Waikato Support Group had a stand at the Waikato Show in the Wellbeing section. 7 of our members manned the stand on a roster, and we gave out over 1000 fliers to some of the 15,800 people who streamed past. Several Polios who didn't know about Polio NZ were discovered and will be followed up.

To see more photos, click here

Thank You Dr Salk - Polio Vaccine Hero
60 year anniversary of the Salk Vaccine. 1955 - 2015

Bold newspaper headlines read: “Salk’s Vaccine Works, Polio Routed! Vaccine Triumph Ends Polio Threat.“ The first official public announcement that the polio vaccine was “safe, effective and potent” was made on the 12th of April 1955 in America. Can we imagine the rapturous joy, excitement and pure relief that one of the most crippling and terrifying diseases could now be conquered? Radio, TV, newspapers, public address systems in schools, factories and work-places, and ringing church bells shouted out across the nation that the Salk vaccine was successful. Huge crowds went wild as they gathered in the streets and around wireless sets to absorb this historic announcement. That day was also appropriately the 10th anniversary of the death of America’s polio president F D Roosevelt.

In just the two years before the vaccine, polio cases in the US numbered more than 45,000, but by 1962 the number was down to 910, and in 1994 USA was declared polio free.

Here in New Zealand the records of how many contracted polio are not so clear or accurate. Between 1915 and the last polio epidemic in 1961 an estimated 10,000 people were registered, however many others went unreported. The first batch of Salk polio vaccines arrived here in April 1956. A small group of 8-9 year old school children were the first to be immunised. In 2000 New Zealand was declared polio free and this once-feared, dreaded disease has almost disappeared from our national psyche, thanks to Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin.

The cultural and social impact of preventing regular epidemics of polio was enormous. The fear of wondering which child would be next to succumb to infantile paralysis, was lifted. Citizens could once again gather freely at churches, movie theatres, swimming pools, sports events and schools without wondering if there were any contagious carriers of the polio virus amongst them. This was the vaccine everyone wanted.

The development of the polio vaccine by Jonas Salk and his team of researchers is one of the greatest medical breakthroughs in modern times, in my opinion. I contracted polio at the age of six months in 1945 (ten years before the vaccine) and continue to live with the after effects of a lifetime of polio damage to my body. Apart from the obvious physical  effects, the emotional harm of isolation, hospitalisation, rejection and the super human effort of trying to live a so-called “normal” life with polio have left their marks too. Yet when I look at my family and hug my grandsons, one named Jonas, what else can I say but “Thank you Jonas Salk. My family need never be touched by polio.”

In this modern era, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be infected with the polio virus. It is so important to keep vaccination levels up in New Zealand because low levels could mean that a polio epidemic could be only a plane ride away. Total global eradication of polio is a continuing pursuit by Rotary, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organisation. Access to war torn countries is slowing down the efforts of these and other groups desiring to protect the most vulnerable in the population: children.

Jonas Salk never patented his polio vaccine, saying “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” And he also said “hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality”.

Thank you Dr Jonas Salk that your dreams of a polio vaccine became a reality.

Edith Morris
Polio Survivor

Waikato Polio Support Group ice cream party

Saturday 28 February

What could be nicer than an ice-cream party on a hot Summer’s day? Nothing it seemed when 20 members of the Polio NZ - Waikato Support Group met for their February meeting. The speaker was Michelle Tanner, Rotarian Polio Co-Chair, IMAC Educator, and recently returned from several weeks in Pakistan teaching about immunisation and “hands on” doing immunisation. Her lively presentation kept us alert and interested and good questions were asked.



A variety of flavours and topping on the ice-cream were enjoyed under the shady trees in our (Noel and Edith’s) back yard.

And you can hear Michelle’s talk on-line, although there is some background noise on the recording:

JB Munro inducted into the Attitude Hall of Fame

JB Munro was honoured as one of the pioneers of the Disability Sector by being inducted into the Attitude Hall of Fame at the Attitude Awards Ceremony which was then broadcast on Sunday 7 December. We join with them by adding our congratulations. Watch video here....

"Vaccination Wars"
– article from GOOD Magazine
Takes a look at Polio's history, epidemics, Post Polio Syndrome, and vaccination then and now. The section on PPS is from an interview with Edith Morris, former President of Polio NZ. Download PDF here

World Polio Day 2014

To mark World Polio Day, Edith Morris, former president of Polio NZ Inc, travelled to the central North Island town of Matamata (aka Hobbiton). She shared her polio experiences at the local Rotary Club dinner on October 21, and encouraged them in the continued global eradication of polio.

-or someone you know?

Of course there have been no recent cases of polio in New Zealand. But many of those who did get polio prior to about 1956 are still around.

When they reach their 50s - 60s they often experience new pains and weaknesses above the normal ageing process. This is known as Post Polio Syndrome or the Late Effects of Polio.

At this stage it is important that this condition is recognised and treated to avoid further serious deterioration. Some forms of exercise and some drugs can be counter-productive.

Please get in touch with the Post Polio Support Society
0800 476 546, and read some of the information on this and associated web sites here.

Criteria for suspecting Post-Polio Syndrome and Late Effects of Polio
  • A prior episode of polio confirmed by medical history or obvious polio paralysis
  • Residual motor neuron loss
  • Years of functional stability after the acute illness
  • Gradual or abrupt onset of new weakness
  • Generalised fatigue leading to exhaustion, which may also have psychological effects

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2016 PNZ Waikato