Local Rotarian goes to India to administer polio vaccine to children

News release from Bob Jehn, Rotary Club of Burney-Fall River:

Rotarian Patricia Bergman headed to Delhi on January 28 to join Anil Garg of the Rotary Club of Simi Valley, California, along with a group of Rotarians from around the world to administer polio vaccine to children in India. The group will be vaccinating children during the country’s National Immunization Days.

Burney-Fall River Rotarian Patricia with children in India.

“When this program was started back in 1985, there were 1,000 cases per day worldwide, and it was endemic in 125 countries,” said Bergman. “Last year we had only 30 cases worldwide; the year before that we only had 22 cases worldwide, and that was in two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. So, we are very, very, very close in eradicating the disease.”

Bergman and the group attended three orientation programs with representatives from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and India’s national polio committee office.

Burney-Fall River Rotarian Patricia Bergman administering polio vaccine to children in India.

India hasn’t had a polio case in five years, but because the virus is still present in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it would take only one flight to bring the virus back into the country where, so far, Rotary has spent over $8 billion in this program since 1985.

On Feb. 1, the team flew to Nagpur, located in central India, where they were taken around the local areas to meet with different Rotary clubs. High school, middle school, and elementary school students went around town with banners promoting a polio-free country, a polio-free city, rallying to motivate people.

On February 2, the group began to administer the liquid drops to children 5 and younger.

“It is very satisfying to be able to participate in this Rotary-sponsored program,” said Bergman. “To be on the ground with a program that Rotary has been working on since I joined the organization 25 years ago is a truly humbling experience.”

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