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Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)

Vol. 12, No. 1, Winter 1996
Read selected articles from this issue ...

New Swallowing Problems in Aging Polio Survivors
Carl A. Coelho, PhD, Gaylord Hospital, Wallingford, Connecticut

Additional Insights

Living with Disability: Approaching Disability as a Life Course – The Theory
Jessica Scheer, PhD, National Rehabilitation Hospital Research Center, Washington, DC

The Ramp Project

An Exercise Suitable for All Polio Survivors: The right to vote

WHO Reiterates Support of Oral Polio Vaccine

Readers Write

Post-Polio Bibliography


An Exercise Suitable for All Polio Survivors

Exercise your right to vote. Statistics on the disability vote indicate that 49 million Americans, or 19.4% of the population, or almost one out of every five people has a disability. Twenty-five million Americans with disabilities are registered voters. In 1992, 10% of all voters had disabilities. Of all registered voters with disabilities: 54% are registered as Democrat; 24% are registered as Republicans.

Are you registered to vote? "The National Voter Registration Act" (NVRA or P.L. 103-31) signed into law in May of 1993 accomplished the goal of furthering full voting registration by requiring states to offer voter registration services.

In most states, voter registration application can be found at motor vehicle offices, social service agencies such as SSA, the Welfare Office, and private social agencies, or at public forums when candidates speak, or in candidate's campaign offices. The Secretary of State in each state capitol can also provide you information on how you can vote and to tell you of the deadline for registration in your state. (Lawsuits have occurred in 11 states where governors or legislatures refused to comply with the mandate of the NVRA. Five court decisions in three states have all been decided in favor of the NVRA.)

Getting out to vote. The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 P.L. 98-435) states that "any handicapped or elderly voter assigned to an inaccessible polling place, upon advance request of such voter (pursuant to procedures established by the chief election officer of the state) will be assigned to an accessible polling place or will be provided with an alternative means for casting a ballot on the day of election." [Sec. 3(a)(1)(B)]. This act also states in Federal elections that "no notarization or medical certification shall be required of a handicapped voter with respect to an absentee ballot or an application for such ballot, except that medical certification may be required when the certification establishes eligibility, under state law ..." [Sec. 5(b)]. In other words, medical certification or notification cannot be required in order to vote in Federal elections. However, the procedures may be different for local elections. Check with your local election board.

Whom to call in your state. The January 1996, Word From Washington published by the United Cerebral Palsy Associations, featured "A Nonpartisan Guide to Voting." They encourage that the information be broadly disseminated. For a list of chief election officers by state; list of deadlines for registering to vote by state; one-page sheet with Techniques to Access the Disability Vote for Candidates Running for Office & Disability Litmus Test: How to Access the Candidates, contact International Polio Network (now Post-Polio Health International). 


WHO Reiterates Support of Oral Polio Vaccine

"The eradication from the world can only be achieved using oral polio vaccine," said Dr. Jong-Wook Lee, Director of the Global Program for Vaccines, Commenting on a decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States of America to recommend adding two doses of injectable polio vaccine (IPV) to the national immunization schedule.

"The core group working towards global polio eradication, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), CDC and Rotary International, emphasize that oral polio vaccine (OPV) is recommended because it can provide both individual protection to each child, as well as prevent the spread of the poliovirus to other children," points out Dr. Lee. At US$ 0.08 per dose, the cost of a single dose of OPV procured by UNICEF is less than one tenth the cost of a dose of IPV.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) statement applies only to the United States where the last case of naturally occurring polio was registered more than 15 years ago. WHO reaffirms its position that OPV alone is the basis for the global eradication of polio, and that the addition of IPV is neither necessary nor recommended for this purpose.

The ACIP meeting at the Centers for Disease Control voted on Wednesday (October 18), to change the immunization schedule in the United States to two doses of injectable polio vaccine and two doses of oral polio vaccine. In their recommendation, the ACIP affirmed its support for WHO's initiative to eradicate polio and noted that the eradication of polio was achieved in the United States through the exclusive use of the oral polio vaccine.

"The change in ACIP's position seems to be based on fears of polio caused by the vaccine," says Dr. Lee. "Vaccine associated polio occurs at a rate of about one case per three million doses administered." The new ACIP strategy will prevent only about half of the five to ten cases of vaccine associated polio in the United States each year at a cost of approximately US$ 20 million.

WHO estimates that as many as 100,000 cases of polio occurred worldwide in 1994. The initiative to eradicate polio seeks to destroy totally the wild (naturally occurring) poliovirus from the entire world by the year 2000. When the disease is eradicated, immunization against polio will no longer be necessary. The United States will save at least US$230 million each year after polio is eradicated and immunization is stopped. The global savings from polio eradication are expected to total at least US$ 1.5 billion per year.

SOURCE: EPI Newsletter (Expanded Program on immunization) Pan American Health Organization, Washington, DC 20037 USA