Posted by Charlie Wasser
The following article will explain the original derivation of what the “Plus” in PolioPlus is. A lot of the following material has been copied in segments or paraphrased from material on Rotary websites related to PolioPlus - Rotary News Online;, - and culled down to make the article a quick read.
Pulse Polio, a forerunner of PolioPlus
The “pulse vaccination” strategy is a method used to eradicate an epidemic by repeatedly vaccinating a group at risk, over a defined age range, until the spread of the pathogen has been stopped. It is most commonly used during measles and polio epidemics to quickly stop the spread and contain the outbreak.
“Pulse Polio” is the immunization campaign established by the government of India to eliminate polio in India. This was to be done by vaccinating all children under the age of five years against the polio virus. The project fights polio through a large-scale, “pulse vaccination” program and monitoring for polio cases.
The term “pulse immunization” was coined in Vellore (Tamil Nadu) in the context of making the town polio-free during 1981–83 through a project of the Rotary Club of Vellore and the Christian Medical College (CMC). Past RI President Clem Renouf visited Vellore in 1982 to watch Rotarian volunteers giving oral polio vaccine (OPV) to children during the Vellore “Pulse Polio” immunization. Today “Pulse Polio” is a well-known phrase.
The first 3H polio immunization project (3H is the former name for large dollar amount TRF projects) was in the Philippines in 1979 along with tetanus vaccination of pregnant women, and thus immunization, especially of children, to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases — measles, polio and tetanus — became ipso facto a Rotary priority.
PRIP Renouf and other RI leaders wanted a mega project to celebrate the Rotary Centenary Year in 2005. He wanted a health related project and homed in to the idea of a ‘gift of a polio-free world’ to the children. His idea was accepted by the top leadership of Rotary and thus a “Polio 2005 Committee” was established in 1984.
The “Polio 2005 Committee” was chaired by PDG Dr John Sever. RI President Dr Carlos Canseco was a member and Dr Albert Sabin, the creator of OPV, a special invitee. The Polio 2005 Committee decided that Rotary would spearhead polio immunization for children globally, but do so with tacit support for the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) which follows protocols to offer vaccines for more than just polio. They did not want children protected from polio paralysis dying of diphtheria, measles or whooping cough — all vaccine-preventable under EPI. In order to highlight this change in perspective, the committee was renamed “PolioPlus Committee” and the global Rotary Centenary Project was known as “PolioPlus.” The “Plus” indicated Rotary’s support for protecting children against all vaccine-preventable diseases.
Because of the work done to develop the techniques and infrastructure to build the “PolioPlus” program, the current efforts used to control the Covid-19 epidemic is based on the “PolioPlus” techniques.
Please contact me with questions, suggestions, or if you want a member of the 5840 PolioPlus Committee to make a presentation to your club about PolioPlus history and current status of the effort to eradicate polio.