No question, COVID-19 is the illness story of the year. But several decades ago, it was polio.
“Neighbors” once published the memory of a man who had a polio shot at a mass vaccination at the Civic Center in Fargo.
The note about it came from Jonas Dravland, Lenoir, N.C., who lived in Moorhead from 1957 to 1960, then in Fargo from 1960 to 1963.
As best Jonas could remember, the vaccination event occurred when he was a preschooler around 1959. But it could have been in the early 1960s, he said.
That column brought a couple of responses.
Margaret Zeren, Horace, N.D., has a Forum picture of herself as a young girl getting a vaccination shot at that event. The date on the page with that picture is Feb. 25, 1963.
Jeremy Jensen, Fargo, writes, “In 1952, when I was in first grade at Agassiz school in Fargo, a polio vaccination shot was given to students.
“After getting the shot, we were given a small tin pin that said ‘Polio Pioneers.’
“In 1966, when I was in basic training, we were given a sugar cube with the polio vaccine on it.”
That vaccine, you no doubt know, was developed by and named for Jonas Salk.
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Jonas Dravland, the former Moorhead-Fargo resident mentioned above and who now is a retired pediatrician, writes “Neighbors” that he once met Salk.
“I had always felt an affinity for him,” Jonas says, “because he and me and my grandfather were the only people I knew with the name Jonas.
“I was working at UC-Davis, and he came to speak.
“My mother was visiting, and she couldn’t wait to see this hero of medicine.
“After his talk, he was on the patio pontificating all sorts of philosophical issues with the medical students. My mother pushed them aside, grabbed his hand, shook it, and said, ‘Thank you, Dr. Salk, for inventing that vaccine.’
“He smiled, clearly pleased, and expressed some happiness at her gesture.”
Hopefully, someday soon we’ll have someone we can thank for coming up with a COVID-19 vaccine.
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