Place of Residence: Massapequa Park, New York

Mary Beth vividly remembers how her childhood was affected by her mother, Mildred’s, experience with polio. Before the polio vaccine became available in 1955, Mary Beth and her sisters were not allowed to go swimming because her mother was terrified that polio would strike their family again. Mildred became a passionate vaccine advocate and Mary Beth continues that legacy through her work as a nurse practitioner.

Mary Beth shares the story of how her mother contracted polio at the age of 3 and how that drew her to a career in the health field.


Place of Residence: Dewitt, NY

As a child, Jan saw firsthand the devastation of polio. At just six years old, she survived a polio epidemic during which 8 children in a classroom of 24 were diagnosed with paralytic polio. Three children died, including her twin brother. Jan was one of only two paralyzed children who made a full recovery. In April 1954, she was one of 1.8 million school children who participated in the Salk vaccine trial as a “Polio Pioneer.”

Jan shares how she lost her twin brother, Frankie, to polio at 6 years old and has gone on to become an international champion for vaccines.  

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Holly had polio in 1942; here’s what she wants you to know.


Richard was 13 years old when he got polio the summer before eighth grade. After a day of headaches, he woke up with a neck and back so painful and stiff that he couldn’t get out of bed despite the beautiful summer weather.

That day was the beginning of a long journey for Richard. Polio meant the teenager underwent a tracheotomy with only a local anesthetic, spent months in an iron lung, and endured years of intensive physical therapy. Through it all, he maintained his positive outlook and determination to return home to live a long, full life.

Richard shared an excerpt of his memoir, Not Just Polio, with Vaccinate Your Family. Please take a moment to read his incredible story of perseverance.

>> Read the excerpt from Not Just Polio

You can purchase his book on Amazon.


Judith’s story, as told by Judith Shaw Beatty.

Courtesy of ShotbyShot.org

In 1949, the year I was hit by the poliovirus, 42,000 cases of polio were reported in the United States and 2,720 people died, most of them children. I was diagnosed with paralytic poliomyelitis, which is experienced in less than 1 percent of poliovirus infections. Not only did it immobilize me completely from the neck down, it also attacked my lungs. It was August, a popular month for polio, and I was six years old.