Polio vaccine “saved my life” Brunswick man recalls

STEPHEN Allkins was too young to remember spending three months in hospital, screaming from the pain of having his legs massaged, to help mitigate the effects of the debilitating polio disease.

The Brunswick resident said his mother filled him in years later about his experience and the trial vaccine that saved him.

"I'm not sure how old I was, but I was just starting to walk - so probably 18 months - and my mother said that I used to love walking and all of a sudden one day I'd get up and I'd just fall down," he said.

"She thought there must be something weird going on so she took me to the hospital and it turned out I had polio.

"Apparently I was there for three months and my mother would come in every day and see me and spend from 10 in the morning to seven at night with me.

"They had to massage my muscles, and it was particularly in my legs apparently, and she said I used to scream every time they had to do it because it was so painful.

"While I was in hospital, the vaccine must have been developed to trial, and they tried it on me, and it worked."

Mr Allkins said it was a shame so many pharmaceutical medications had side effects, some of which can be quite severe, which could be having flow-on effects to mistrust in vaccines.

But he said those who chose not to vaccinate their children probably don't appreciate the full severity and horror of the diseases they're vaccinating against.

"People don't realise how bad the illnesses are that their children can get and how easy it is once something starts spreading, to be kept under control," he said.

"I know first-hand that it (the vaccine) saved my life because I wouldn't be walking today.

"When kids are young, these are dangerous illness.

"If you think of malaria or the black plague, they don't exist because people have been vaccinated or have been eradicated."

Mr Allkins home town, Brunswick Heads, only has 67.2% of five-year-old children vaccinated.

Recent released data from the National Health Performance Authority report shows only 67.2% of five-year-old children in Mr Alkins home town of Brunswick Heads are vaccinated, compared to a national average of between 90-95%.