Because  You Asked . . . .
Jaycee Keith Edwards giving flu vaccine to Martha Michels while Jaycees Steve Lord, left, and Dave Warner are ready to assist.  Dr. Lloyd May, Delaware County Health Commissioner, is observing the operation.
First Flu Clinic in Delaware County
Contagious diseases wiped out more settlers than Indian raids.  Burying grounds were usually platted outside the village limits on the west side of the settlement to prevent the spread of contagious diseases into the village.  As the towns grew, the cemeteries usually end up inside the village as in Galena and Sunbury. 

For many years, influenza was a major killed of the older and the younger citizens.  My father was born two months early because his mother had influenza in 1905.  Because no one expected him to make it, he was kept on a pillow in a rocking chair and not named for two weeks while the doctor concentrated on saving his mother.  Fortunately for me, both survived.

In 1918 a swine flu epidemic killed 20-100 million people (statistics were not kept).  This caused great concern in 1976 when 500 soldiers at Fort Dix came down with swine flu.  Fearing a repeat of 1918, health officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and officials in Washington pushed through a presidential decision to vaccinate every man, woman and child in the country - more than 200 million Americans in all. 

The first free flu clinic in Delaware County was held October 14, 1976, in Big Walnut High School sponsored by the Delaware County Health Department, Ohio Department of Health and the Big Walnut Area Jaycees.  Jaycee President Dan Halter reported 834 residents received the free shots at two clinics held in Sunbury.  

Nationally, things did not work out well.  It took too long to make the vaccine, three elderly people died from it, and unfortunately  532 people contracted Guillain-Barre, a paralytic disease, and 32 of those died.  The swine flu vaccinations was halted after only 45 million people got them.  I know of no adverse side effects among those receiving the shots in our area.  No other incidents of swine flu were reported in 1976.

Different stains of influenza circle the globe and keep researchers busy developing counter measures.  Medical research has made great strides in prevention of killer diseases. Today flu and pneumonia shots are common and part of the annual well-being physical.

Last week, my mother became very ill with what appeared to be pneumonia.  She had her flu shot in November but the doctor and hospital staff began to worry when her influenza like symptoms were so strong. Was there another strain of influenza in the community which the shot had not attacked?  She was isolated until a culture was grown. Grady staff and health officials breathed a sigh of relief with us when the test showed no influenza.

We've come along way from pioneer medicine.


. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


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(04/01/2006 )

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