Polio vs. Covid vaccine

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A woman who participated in the polio vaccine trials discusses her experience with the polio and the coronavirus vaccines. Newsline reporter Rachel Smith sat down with Susan Dixon, who participated in the polio vaccine trials when she was just 9 years old. 

Dixon’s school, Wasatch Elementary, had its students participate in the polio vaccine trials in 1954. 

“They lined us all up in the hall, and we walked down the hall, and they gave us a shot,” said Dixon.

Some students were given a placebo, while others were given the salk vaccine. About a year later, she found out which one she got. 

“They published all the people who had shots in the Salt Lake Tribune, and my name was in there as receiving the actual shot. And I was so thrilled because I didn’t have to have another shot.” 

Thanks to the vaccine, Dixon never got polio. However, her husband fell ill with it early on. “He was about nine and was paralyzed for a year,” she said.

Her husband recovered but had to relearn how to do many things like walk and ride a bike. Dixon said the COVID-19 pandemic is not unlike the others she has lived through, but views of the vaccine are vastly different. 

“It was during the 50s, and everybody believed the medical profession, you know, and what we needed to do. And after so many people had died and been paralyzed by polio, they were willing to take the shot.” 

Dixon proudly owns a polio pioneer pin and said she’s grateful for the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. She encourages others to get it as well, saying, “Covid is not the only pandemic that we have lived through. And, you know, I think that we should be willing to do whatever the medical people say we should do.”

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus vaccine eligibility, visit coronavirus.utah.gov.

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