Paul & Pat Harvey Vaccinating in India 2018

In January for the past five years, Rotarian Paul Harvey and his wife Pat have travelled to India to vaccinate children there against Polio. This year they took a team of 18 Rotarians to Kolkata in West Bengal to take part in their National Immunisation Day, a day when over 174 million children throughout the country are vaccinated against Polio.

Although the last case of Polio in the UK was in 1984, there were still hundreds of thousands of cases throughout the rest of the world. Rotary decided that since nobody else was doing it, it would set about eradicating Polio worldwide. As a result of this Rotary initiative, last year there were only 22 cases of Polio and hopefully within a couple more years there will be none anywhere in the world.

Pat and Paul were vaccinating in the brickfields to the north of Kolkata and also along the railway tracks. Paul explained: “When I was a child, I can remember not being allowed to go swimming in the summer at my local lido because my parents were terrified I would catch polio. I can also remember being given my first polio vaccination when I was eight. It is a privilege to be able to give the same protection I was given as a child to children in India.”

He continued: “We are lucky that we have three very healthy grandsons who have been vaccinated against most childhood illness by the NHS. We will always remember the moment when two grandparents brought us their 20-day-old grandson for his first vaccination by the side of a railway track in Kolkata. Immunisation against polio is the best thing that we as grandparents could give to them”.

Recently, the Bishop’s Stortford Rotary Club, for their work in helping to eradicate Polio made both Paul and Pat Paul Harris Fellows – this is the highest honour that Rotary can award.

Paul gave a talk with slides about their visit to India at the Rotary GB&I Annual Conference in Torquay on Saturday 7th April that HRH The Princess Royal attended as an honoured guest.