Letter to the Editor: Not many who remember polio are anti-vaxxers today

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the newspapers. To submit a letter, email or

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To the Editor:

One summer day during my 1940s childhood, I told my mother that my neck hurt. "Don't talk that way!" was her almost angry retort. I was shocked at her response, but later realized that she was living in constant fear that one of her kids would fall victim to the polio epidemic that was raging at the time. At least three of my Sebeka classmates got polio while growing up, and one of them was crippled for life.

I had measles at age 10. After a few days of lethargy I was back to normal, and I had my natural immunity. A decade later my little brother was shocked when one of his elementary school classmates succumbed to the disease.

Almost a century ago, things were looking up for Sebeka resident Ray Blakeman. He had a wife and two little sons. Then smallpox struck their home. One month and two funerals later, Mr. Blakeman was left with one motherless little boy.

Because of a vaccine that had been developed since the days of my youth, measles has gone from a rite of passage to a rarity. The Salk and Sabin vaccines have conquered polio. And the smallpox vaccine has eradicated the disease.


You won't find many anti-vaxxers among those of us who remember what things were like seven decades ago.

- Jerry Miller, Sebeka MN

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