As part of National Immunization Day aimed at vaccinating over 172 million children under the age of 5 across India, Ladner Rotarians Chris and Penny Offer, both Past District Governors, joined a Rotary International team of volunteers from Canada, Switzerland, Australia and the United States to give Polio vaccinations in rural India in late February.

This team and others of international volunteers from Japan, Britain, Belgium and France joined local
Siblings look on as a baby receives polio vaccine drops
from Ladner Rotarian Penny Offer
volunteers and health officials to carry out the two day national campaign.
Chris and Penny travelled with their team to Nuh, Haryana, India about 70 km from Delhi. Nuh, is a predominately Muslim community which endures ongoing poverty and lack of basic public services.
The vaccination is administered by two simple drops on the tongue. Someone with no medical experience can provide this form of immunization. This unskilled form of vaccination is crucial to keeping polio at bay because so many more people can volunteer to administer it.
Chris Offer gives polio vaccine drops to a young child


Chris says how amazing it is that, “Just two drops and we can protect children from polio.”
Polio is a life-threatening and crippling virus, which largely attacks children under the age of five years of age. It invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours. There is no cure for it but it can be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life.

Rotary made the promise in 1985 to eradicate polio from the world. At that time there were 125 endemic countries. Now there are just three: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Penny Offer says: “It is amazing to think that since making the pledge in 1985 to eradicate polio, Rotarians have worked together to battle the disease all over the world. Travelling to India and working with Indian Rotarians, illustrates how important it is to be involved in community projects that are not just on your doorstep.”
“It’s hard to comprehend that people in Pakistan are being murdered for what we did in India,” adds
Rotarian team approaches the polio vaccination clinic in the
rural, largely Muslim village of Nuh, Haryana, India

Eradication efforts in Pakistan have been hit by opposition from militants and attacks on immunization teams that have claimed 71 lives since December 2012.
Although India was declared free from the disease last year, there is still the real risk of re-infection from the high number of cases found in nearby Pakistan and therefore it is essential that high levels of immunization are maintained.