"The iron lung still gives me nightmares": Polio sufferer's message for Covid anti-vaxxers

8 December 2020, 16:55

By Fiona Jones

This caller suffered polio before a vaccine was available and had to spend six months in an iron lung as a young boy - he questioned why anyone would refuse the Covid vaccine.

The UK is taking a "huge step forward" in its fight against Covid-19 as the country's vaccination programme gets under way, Boris Johnson has said.

Vaccinations will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs across the country from Tuesday - dubbed "V-Day" by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Caller Jeremy, who is approaching his 80th birthday, is in the high risk category for coronavirus - but in 1947, aged 5, he was also in the high risk category for polio.

Sadly there was not a vaccine for that disease and tragically, he became ill and spent six months in an iron lung as a young boy.

Read more: Grandmother, 90, becomes first patient to receive Covid vaccine

"I was separated from my family, my parents, who occasionally would visit and look through a glass window," Jeremy said, "all my toys were burnt when I left the hospital. I continue to be affected by the disease around 70 years later."

There are some people that are hesitant to have the Covid jab - and Jeremy lamented that he wished there'd been a vaccine for polio when he was a boy as it would have saved him.

On whether or not he'd take the Covid vaccine, he said, "Why wouldn't I?"

Jeremy pointed out that when a polio vaccine was released in the 1950s, there were some concerns about its efficacy and possible side effects - yet polio is almost "entirely eradicated."

This caller told Shelagh Fogarty he still has nightmares about his time in the iron lung
This caller told Shelagh Fogarty he still has nightmares about his time in the iron lung. Picture: PA/LBC

He told Shelagh he still gets nightmares about being in the iron lung, a huge metal cylinder which encompassed a patient and acted as a mechanical respirator.

Just like there are long Covid sufferers, Jeremy pointed out there is now evidence of post polio syndrome that develops over time.

Shelagh remarked that thankfully, as the new virus is being rolled out, Jeremy will hopefully not have another nightmarish experience during a viral pandemic.