Lubbock woman remembers polio outbreak

Lubbock woman remembers polio outbreak

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - After seeing the effects of the polio outbreak in the 1950s, one Lubbock resident has a message for those who may have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Valerie Komkov-Hill was taken back to her childhood.

“You know that was kind of disturbing to see children our age in wheelchairs and with braces on their legs and struggling to move,” she said.

Before the polio vaccine, the disease disabled tens of thousands of children and adults, and killed thousands more. Now, with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Komkov-Hill shares her experience hoping to persuade others to get immunized.

Her family immigrated to the U.S. during the outbreak. It was in the early 1950s when she first received the polio vaccine.

“And nobody back then complained about the vaccine,” she said. “It was just like this is desperate and we need to save our children.”

Now, polio cases are almost unheard of in the U.S. She said this should reassure others to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Whatever, you know, reactions you have to a vaccinations or whatever your fears were -- it’s nothing like the unknown of not knowing how your body personally reacts to COVID,” she said.

She said her grandmother died at a young age from a disease that you can now get a vaccination for. For her, it’s a sobering reminder of the lasting effects of the virus.

“It sort of doesn’t make an impact until it affects not only your life personally, but also the life of the community,” she said.

This week marks the city’s third week of its COVID-19 vaccination clinic and appointments are already filled up. Komkov-Hill said this is a good sign.

“Which is encouraging, which means people are not afraid. They’re going to line up and they’re going to get the vaccines,” she said. “And hopefully in a couple of months or three months, we’re going to get this under control.”

She hopes those on the fence about getting the coronavirus vaccine will listen to health experts and urges others to not let their guard down to protect themselves and those around them.

“The cure is much better than the disease,” she said.

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