The drive for im­mu­ni­sa­tion aware­ness


A book of po­lio-re­lated sto­ries has con­trib­uted to vac­ci­na­tion aware­ness in South Taranaki in more ways than one.

We Can Do Any­thing was writ­ten by po­lio-sur­vivor Shirley Hazel­wood, who is part of the Ethel Gray Char­i­ta­ble Trust.

Her book tells the sto­ries of some of those who con­tracted po­liomyeli­tis, more com­monly known as po­lio, and how the dis­ease af­fected their lives.

‘‘The book is made up of a whole lot of lit­tle sto­ries from in­di­vid­u­als in Taranaki who were brought down with po­lio,’’ trust chair­man Barrie Smith said. ’’It’s [po­lio] dev­as­tat­ing.’’

The book en­cour­ages peo­ple to get im­mu­nised. Po­lio killed, per­ma­nently paral­ysed or crip­pled many in New Zealand dur­ing the early 20th cen­tury and con­tin­ued its deadly swathe through the pop­u­la­tion un­til the mid 1950s. Al­though no­body was im­mune, chil­dren were struck down more than adults. Thanks to im­mu­ni­sa­tion, New Zealand has been po­lio free since 1970 but no­body can af­ford to be com­pla­cent.

Re­cently, the sales of Hazel­wood’s books raised enough money for the trust to sign print a Taranaki District Heath Board (TDHB) car with im­por­tant im­mu­ni­sa­tion mes­sages.

Smith said the trust had suf­fi­cient funds and thought sign print­ing the car was a good idea.

‘‘It pro­motes im­mu­ni­sa­tion,’’ Smith said. ’’It’s a district health board car so they will drive it around.

‘‘It will be based in South Taranaki.’’

The TSB Com­mu­nity Trust re­cently gave the Ethel Gray Char­i­ta­ble Trust $1000 that they used to re-print an­other 48 We Can Do Any­thing books.

Smith said all of the ex­tra books were given to li­braries, and the TDHB to dis­trib­ute around hos­pi­tal and med­i­cal cen­tre wait­ing rooms.

‘‘Our trust is rep­re­sent­ing all of Taranaki,’’ Smith said.

The Ethel Gray Char­i­ta­ble Trust was estab­lished in De­cem­ber 2015 fol­low­ing the wind­ing up of the Taranaki Post-Po­lio Group, which has been co-or­di­nated by Ha­zle­wood for 22 years.

She con­tracted po­lio at 13 months of age and has en­dured the re­sults of this hor­ri­ble dis­ease since.

The trust was named af­ter a well-re­spected nurse. Ethel Gray nursed at the Strat­ford Hos­pi­tal dur­ing 1948 and con­tracted po­lio. She was put into an iron lung but passed away four days later.


The newly sign printed car with: (left) Mary Stan­ley, Doug Hutchin­son, Barrie Smith, Bar­bara Wil­liams, Me­lanie

Hurli­man and Shirley Hazel­wood, the au­thor of We Can Do Any­thing, in the front.

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