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Want a side of Polio with those Measles?

Mumps, measles, polio, whooping cough - are you safe from these diseases?

How about the child who sits beside yours in the classroom, or the coughing cashier who just handed you change for your morning coffee? Have they been vaccinated against all of these illnesses?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate one in four American toddlers are not vaccinated sufficiently against childhood diseases, according to a study of more than 17,000 two-year-olds. The study found that two-thirds of the children either missed doses or were administered doses at incorrect time intervals, rendering the vaccination useless.

And outside of those children mistakenly believed by parents and doctors to have been inoculated correctly are those who do not receive any vaccinations at all. Forty-eight states allow parents to waive the vaccinations because of religious beliefs, 20 states allow for conscientious objector waivers.

Jan Food-Nichols, a DeWitt native and polio survivor, was among the majority of Americans who believed vaccine-preventable childhood diseases no longer posed a threat in the United States - they are, after all, vaccine-preventable.

Nichols said it was in 2003 when a friend sent her an article about the prevalence of Polio around the world that she was compelled to share her survival story and spread awareness of the disease.

Twin Voices: A Memoir of Polio, the Forgotten Killer, is Nichols' rendition of the 1953 Polio epidemic that gripped the Syracuse area and claimed the life of her then 6-year-old twin brother, Frankie.

I never thought I would write a book, I never thought I would talk about our experience, Nichols said.

I thought it was a personal matter no one would be interested in.

But when Nichols, who holds a Master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, realized the threat still posed by illnesses thought to be eradicated from the U.S., she knew it was time to tell her story.

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