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Winnipeg polio survivor urges parents to get their kids vaccinated

This 2014 illustration made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a polio virus particle. On Thursday, July 21, 2022, New York health officials reported a polio case, the first in the U.S. in nearly a decade. (Sarah Poser, Meredith Boyter Newlove/CDC via AP)

A Winnipeg man who survived polio as a child says he wants to encourage parents to make sure their children get vaccinated, now that cases of the disease — once thought to be nearly eradicated — have started popping up around the world.

Wesley Hazlitt has spent decades talking about the impact polio has had on his life, and said — with news that cases of the virus have appeared in places like New York City, the United Kingdom and Israel — parents should make sure they catch up on any shots their kids may have missed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: After 1st U.S. polio case in a decade, doctors in Canada stress vaccination

“A lot of parents that would normally get their kids vaccinated for polio, diphtheria, mumps and those kinds of things — they didn’t get it done and maybe it’s kind of escaped from them,” Hazlitt told 680 CJOB.

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“People have (also) been using misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccine, and they’ve included things like polio and measles in the conversation, so some parents are thinking the polio vaccine isn’t effective. It’s highly effective.”

According to the most recent survey data from the federal government, just over 90 per cent of the Canadian population was vaccinated for polio in childhood. Last week, the Public Health Agency of Canada said it would start testing wastewater for the disease.

Hazlitt said he doesn’t want to see other kids go through the same struggles he has endured throughout his life, especially with a preventable disease.

Read more: Plans underway to monitor Canadian sewage for monkeypox, polio traces, Tam says

“I had a lot of therapy going on, I had to learn how to walk, and growing up I was excluded from a number of things,” he said.

“I worked very hard to learn how to do things on braces and crutches and eventually worked hard to get rid of one of my braces and use crutches only for long walks.”

Click to play video: 'Canada could test wastewater for polio ‘should that need arise’: Tam'
Canada could test wastewater for polio ‘should that need arise’: Tam

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