Mr. STEARNS. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on the legislation and to insert extraneous material on the bill.
Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, I rise in support of House Resolution 526, a resolution authored by Mr. Rothman of New Jersey that supports the goals and ideals of observing the Year of Polio Awareness. I commend Representative Rothman for introducing this important resolution, which helps to raise awareness about polio and the continued need to vaccinate all children against polio and other infectious diseases.
While many of us in this Chamber are old enough to remember polio as a national tragedy that claimed thousands of lives and left thousands more permanently disabled, younger generations may have only read about polio in history books. But the story of polio, its spread, its dreaded consequences, the millions of lives it touched, and our ultimate triumph over the disease, should forever remain etched in our national memory.
Recently, the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History held an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the injectable, killed polio vaccine, also known as the Salk vaccine. The exhibit detailed the incredible story of polio in the United States, beginning with the 1916 outbreak in New York City that paralyzed 9,000 people and killed 2,400, most of whom were children less than 10 years of age. It went on to tell visitors about the all-consuming race to find a vaccine, from the
story of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who may have been paralyzed by polio and went on to found the March of Dimes, the organization that raised hundreds of millions of dollars for polio research and treatment, and for which President Roosevelt's image was etched on the United States dime; to the research efforts led by Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin, and others
to come up with a vaccine that was safe and effective; to the mammoth public health effort needed to vaccinate all children in the United States once a workable vaccine had been found; and, finally, to the worldwide effort to eradicate polio in the latter 20th century. The fight against polio is an amazing story that deserves to be remembered and retold.
But like most museum exhibits, the most striking things about the exhibits were the images. On display were several iron lungs, the metal apparatuses that helped to keep children and adults with polio alive. These metal contraptions restricted all movement and were mostly small because they primarily housed children. They were necessary to help polio patients continue to breathe. Photographs depicted huge warehouses that had been converted to makeshift hospital wards, filled with rows of iron
lungs and the children inside.
Other pictures showed parents standing on ladders and soap boxes, peering through hospital windows, trying to see their children who had been quarantined. Such pictures are painful reminders of a past that should never be relived.
The resolution before us today reminds all of us that we have all the tools needed to prevent the reemergence of polio in this century. By far the most crucial weapon in the fight against infectious disease is vaccination, the medical advance that has saved more lives than any other. Vaccines continue to serve as the first line of defense against infectious disease. The resolution rightly recognizes the need of every child to be vaccinated against polio. It also recognizes the 1.6 million Americans
who survived polio, but still suffer from its effects today.
Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, I rise to support House Resolution 526, which supports the observation of the Year of Polio Awareness.
I do want to thank the sponsor of the legislation, my colleague from New Jersey Representative Steve Rothman, for not only sponsoring this bill, but also for all of his efforts to increase awareness of polio. He will be speaking just a few minutes later.
Polio, as you know, is a viral illness that destroys nerve cells. As a result, muscles become paralyzed, and these muscles can atrophy and die. Polio is most common in infants and young children; however, complications occur most often in older persons and often post-polio.
Those complications have the often disabling symptoms of overwhelming fatigue, muscle weakness and pain, sleep disorders and more. It occurs in 75 percent of paralytic and 40 percent of nonparalytic polio survivors about 35 years after the polio virus attacks.
Although polio has plagued humans since ancient times, its extensive outbreak occurred in the first half of the 1900s before the vaccination created by Jonas Salk became widely available in 1955. And I would say, Madam Speaker, that I certainly am old enough to remember when there were many people who were struck by polio. And in the 1950s, when I was growing up, the fact that there was a vaccine available was just seen as an amazing thing. It was very much on the minds of all of us as we were
growing up in the 1950s and the 1960s.
Sadly, despite having a vaccine against polio, this disease has not been eradicated from the world, and outbreaks continue to occur in the U.S. and other countries. As a matter of fact, it seems we are headed in the wrong direction. The World Health Organization announced last year that they would not meet their intended goal of eliminating new cases of polio worldwide by the end of 2005, since many cases remained.
The hope is that this resolution and the new resurgence of focus on polio will promote increased vaccination and education and treatment of post-polio complications. Even today, Madam Speaker, 10 percent of American children under the age 3 do not receive their polio vaccine. This percentage is lower in poor cities. Given new cases being reported in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Niger, Ethiopia and Yemen, an outbreak in the U.S. would not be surprising. And last year
four cases of the polio virus were reported in Minnesota.
The eradication of new polio cases is achievable, but only if we reeducate the public about the dangers, effects and availability or a vaccine and treatment. This resolution asks all appropriate Federal agencies to take action to educate the people of the U.S. about the polio vaccine, and to educate polio survivors and medical professionals about the existence of post-polio complications and available treatments.
Therefore, I support this resolution recognizing a Year of Polio Awareness beginning on November 1
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. ROTHMAN. Madam Speaker, first let me thank my colleague from New Jersey for giving me this time, and all of your efforts to increase polio awareness.
I would like to thank Chairman Deal for all of your hard work as the chairman of this subcommittee in bringing this matter to the floor, and for all of your support. I would also like to recognize the role of Ranking Member Sherrod Brown for his help.
Madam Speaker, I first want to thank the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee for bringing Resolution 526 to the floor. I also want to take this opportunity to recognize my constituent, a very tireless worker on behalf of those suffering the aftereffects of polio, Dr. Richard Bruno.
As the director of the Post-Polio Institute and International Center for [Page: H6672]
Post-Polio Education and Research at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, and chairperson of the International Post-Polio Task Force, Dr. Bruno is at the forefront of the movement to educate parents about the need to vaccinate their children against this debilitating virus.
This resolution, Madam Chairman, would not be on the floor today without Doctor Bruno's help. I am grateful for his work and commitment to this cause.
Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of this resolution, 526, that will bring critical attention in the United States and around the world to the need for children to be vaccinated against polio. It sounds so simple. So many of us thought that polio had been eradicated, but that is far from the truth.
This resolution recognizes the need for every child to be vaccinated against polio and designates the year starting October 1st as the Year of Polio Awareness. It also urges all Federal agencies to educate doctors and parents about polio, and to also educate polio survivors and medical professionals about the cause and treatment of something called post-polio sequelae. More about that later.
It has been 51 years since the introduction of the polio vaccination. By now this virus should have been eradicated. But as has been said earlier by our chairman and Mr. Pallone, this is not the case. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 10 percent of the U.S. children under 3 years of age, which is approximately 1 million toddlers in our country, are not vaccinated against polio.
This percentage is even greater in America's poorest cities. Even more of our young people are not vaccinated against polio. In my own home State of New Jersey, only 86 percent of the toddlers living in Newark were vaccinated in 2004. Furthermore, the United States is not protected against a polio outbreak. In October of 2005, five children in an Amish community in Minnesota were diagnosed with polio. Although that outbreak was ultimately brought under control, this was a clear signal that we
must do more in our country to prevent the spread of polio.
Polio outbreaks, Madam Speaker, are not only limited to occurring in the United States, but have, for example, as my colleagues have said, been reported in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Somali, Afghanistan, Egypt, Niger, Ethiopia and Yemen, amongst other countries.
In some way the polio vaccination has become a victim of its own success, one might say, with many Americans believing that polio has been eradicated. They no longer have their children vaccinated against this virus. That is a mistake. With outbreaks occurring all over the world, unvaccinated children everywhere, including in the United States, are susceptible to exposure and to catching polio. That is why this resolution is so important.
Madam Speaker, parents must be informed when making decisions about vaccinating their children. They have to know that there is still a threat that their child could be exposed to the polio virus. This resolution will help ensure that doctors will provide all of the necessary information to parents about the polio vaccine and the dangers of the virus.
I hope that the passage of this resolution will accomplish our goal of raising awareness of the importance of having every child vaccinated against polio, and will have the effect of allowing doctors to understand this post-polio sequelae syndrome, which is that after someone has lived a whole lifetime with polio, they then suffer a series of additional complications: chronic overwhelming fatigue, joint pain, and chronic pain of a variety of natures.
Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this resolution, which will educate our own people and all of the people of the world to the continuing threat of polio.
Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, once again, we support this resolution and thank the sponsor, my colleague from New Jersey, for introducing it, and I yield back the balance of my time.