polio

March of Dimes

Residents of Protection, Kansas, came together in the spring of 1957 to make their town the first in the nation to be fully inoculated against polio. Today, like many rural communities, the town is divided over how to fight COVID-19.

PROTECTION, Kansas — Sixty-four years ago, residents of this tiny town in southwestern Kansas set a public health example. They made their town the first in the nation to be fully inoculated against polio.

It’s a different story today.

Pat Gray speaks matter-of-factly about taking her last unassisted steps just before her 13th birthday in 1953.

She says she’d been suffering from a gastro-intestinal illness for a few days. Her fever was high, and her mother was caring for her on a sofa in the dining room of the family’s Kansas City, Kansas, home.

Gray was miserable, so her mother suggested she move to her own bed.