PHI Spark (No. 9)


Searching for Young Polio Survivors and Those Who Need New Help

Hello Group Leader,

First and foremost, this comes to you with a heaping portion of gratitude for all you do!

Facilitating a support group demands a deep commitment from you. Although the group may be a very cohesive bunch who rely on the information they receive and share, and the social opportunity the meeting provides, they may forget to openly thank the leader who makes it happen! 

However, you may be certain the meeting you provide is of great importance and relevance for the attendees. It is very grounding and comforting to spend time with others who share our unique medical situation. A strong bond is formed between members.  

According to the Mayo clinic, "a health-related support group fills a gap between medical treatment and the need for emotional support and direction." So please, always remember what a valuable contribution you are making for the good of the cause and for your members who depend on you.

Your Mission, Should You Decide to Accept It
Speaking of polio survivors and their support groups, we know there are still many unidentified people who had polio out there. Unfortunately, there are no accurate records on the number of survivors still left in the US. However, we do know that there are thousands who still may not be aware of signs and symptoms of post-polio syndrome, or where to get support, such as your group. We also know there are younger survivors living in America who may have contracted polio from the live vaccine. There are also many younger survivors out there who are under the age of 69 who have come from other countries. 

We are concerned about them. How will they obtain an accurate diagnosis at a known post-polio clinic, except by accident? 

Also, we all need a little new medical upgrading now and then, but many of us elders do not know where or how to find that crucial assistance and support. Sometimes, Facebook friends may only be able to provide partial information when it comes to addressing new medical issues. For many of us, new and surprising medical issues can develop in our bodies from this slowly progressing post-polio condition combined with the aging process. And we need new help but may not believe more help is possible.

That’s where you come in! We would like to set you on a mission - if you choose to accept it! It is not a “mission impossible,” but it will be challenging at best! 

Will you please help PHI continue to find young or far-flung older polio survivors?

With your help, we would like to reach out.

We want to assist those who need the benefits of valuable information and networks.

We will provide you with some direction here to get you started, and your group may have some valuable innovative ideas on how we can work together to identify younger and/or isolated polio survivors who need what you and PHI have to offer – resources and support. Please consider some of the suggestions that follow.

  • Have you had creative ideas about how to pull in new or younger survivors?

  • Have you invited these individuals to join your support group?

  • What outreach successes have you experienced?

  • Would you ask your group members to help find young polio survivors who are from other countries or who got polio from the vaccine and are living in your community?

  • Would you contact, or re-contact, the health editor of your local newspaper, or any locally-published magazine? You may be successful in getting them to do a story, especially if you mention that the polio virus remains a real and present danger, albeit it currently small, even here in the US.  (When anti-vaxxers refuse the polio vaccine for their children, polio is not eradicated.)

  • Would it be possible for you to contact your local or state health department? You might inquire if they would have venues to help get the word out.

  • Could someone in your group contact local television stations or individual health reporters? They always have their contact information available. You might also tap into national programs such as "The Doctors." Go to their homepage where there is always a "show ideas" link. Put your suggestion in that area.

  • Have a connection to social media including Facebook, Twitter, etc? This would be especially good for reaching younger people.

  • Perhaps you would call your local chapter of Easter Seals? They often produce their own newsletter, and you may be able to interest them in doing a story. We want to find polio survivors!

Generally, an effective way to grab the interest of the people you are talking with is to remind them polio is not 100% globally eradicated. There are many younger survivors out there who need information on post-polio syndrome.

Once you identify the polio survivor and get their permission, send their name and contact information to us at We would be happy to send them free information on polio and its late effects and where to find help.

We all can reach out and embrace those who still need our help. They are out there. Somewhere. Lost.

Good luck in your efforts and please know that we welcome your feedback related to any or all the points made in this message.

Again, thank you for all you do!

Encourage newcomers to join your support group and PHI as a member. For more information, click here.

Continued polio eradication efforts are threatened by COVID-19 outbreak! Read more from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.