Rockford residents compare the Polio epidemic to COVID pandemic

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:08 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - From the Polio epidemic to the COVID pandemic, for many around our region this isn’t their first time living through a public health crisis.

“This now is ten times worse,” said Rockford resident Katherine Lamphere.

Lamphere was fifteen when Polio hit the United States hard and says while there are many similarities to COVID there are some key differences.

“I don’t remember the mental anguish and of course times change, but it was awful to us then but they wouldn’t know how to cope with this,” said Lamphere.

The first Polio vaccine became available in 1955 and Lamphere recalls a similar set up for administering the shots.

“I can remember going to like a school gym and getting in line and we would get our sugar cube and put it on our tongue,” said Lamphere.

James Buchanan was a teen when he became infected with Polio. He says many of the same fears exist between Polio and COVID, but the way information is shared and how much is available is remarkable.

“There was not near as much publicity about Polio as there is about the COVID,” said Buchanan.

Original photos and machinery used to treat patients can be found at Midway Village Museum in Rockford where leaders say these artifacts are so valuable.

“It’s interesting how much we can learn from looking back at the past and seeing where we’ve been before,” said Midway Village Curator of Collections Laura Furman.

The museum is working to document the COVID pandemic and asks the public to drop off any photos or written letters about their experience to be saved and shared in the future.

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