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Communicating the Fight for Polio Vaccines

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  1. Developing nations are especially struggling to fully eradicate polio
  2. Communication about polio and polio vaccines has had a tumultuous history in Africa
  3. Beyond the attitudes and fears specific to polio-affected populations
  4. The format for this media would consist of two parts
  5. This message will be effective because it is direct and culturally grounded

For our society, polio was an intense and dramatic disease that was eradicated almost as quickly as it came. Now polio remains a fleeting memory of both the tragedy of disease and the ?miracle? of science, yet other nations who are not so fortunate are still living the history and potential of polio endemics. Despite the fact that an effective vaccine system exists, polio still manages to have an impact on the health of certain populations. It is perhaps the more humanistic qualities of polio rather than clinical that impedes the campaign for polio eradication.

[...] Polio vaccines are intended for children under five years of age, with booster shots recommended for many programs, so this media would target the caretakers of children, including parents and responsible older siblings. This media also promotes the connection between vaccination compliance and community cohesiveness, so it is not limited to only those community members who have children, but instead encourages full community participation in polio eradication efforts. The format for this media would consist of two parts. The first would be a poster campaign featuring a picture of a handmade drum and the phrase ?When it comes to polio, don't miss a beat.? The second portion would be actual drums that could be distributed in communities, bearing the phrase ?Keep with the beat to beat polio? as well as a symbol of the polio vaccine (for example, a dropper or syringe). [...]

[...] In 2004 however, misperceptions and false rumors about the safety of oral polio vaccines led to the reinfection of 13 previously polio-free countries. These allegations began in just one state of one country, but spread quickly through the media and word of mouth. Soon it was being suggested that the polio vaccine contained HIV, antifertility agents, or was an effort to eradicate a segment of the population, not polio itself (Aylward 2005). The miscommunication that evolved about the polio vaccine demonstrates the culturally-specific nature of fear. [...]

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