On a sparkling Spring
day, November 2nd 2006,
the 50th anniversary of the Salk Polio Vaccine was celebrated at the
beautiful Wilson Home in Takapuna. Ninety polio survivors, spouses and
family gathered to give thanks at a chapel service for the anniversary
of this vaccine .... this historic vaccine which was discovered too
late to benefit any of them.
Almost forgotten by
most New Zealanders, the
now aging adults got polio as children before the vaccine arrived here
in 1956. These survivors are still sprinkled thoughout society and
carry within them the memories and the physical ravages of polio.
Yet in a
strange irony they enjoyed a day of story-telling and reminiscing about
their struggles in the very home where they had been rehabilitated so
The Wilson Home for
babies and children with
disabilities was founded in 1937 because of the polio epidemics. This
Home is a white stately mansion situated high on the cliffs of St
Leonard's beach, surrounded by tall mature trees and gorgeous gardens.
The wide verandas were ideal for laying out those with infantile
paralysis to benefit from the sun and sea breezes. During the 1940's,
1950's, and into the early 1960's, the Wilson Home was indeed a caring
home for so many with polio. Some lived there for several months and
some for a number of years as their bodies recovered enough to enter
school and society.
As the mass
immunisation campaigns against
polio circulated throughout the schools and around the country, polio
cases dropped off dramatically, and NZ was declared polio free in 2000.
of the fearful epidemics have all but faded from the nation's psyche,
but not from thousands of survivors who are still living with the after
effects of polio.
hear Bev Barnes' talk at the Chapel Service, click here
- To hear Doreen
Chandler's comments, click
DVD of the day covers the Chapel Service, the Story time, and a brief
look around the grounds, as well as a 7 minute overview. To buy a DVD
for NZ$15 (NZ Postage included, other countries extra) click
- To watch the 7 min
overview video, click