Marie Brisson and her family

‘They Had to Rely on the Medical Field’: Pandemic Echoes Polio Epidemic for Silent, Baby Boomer Generations

For many people around the world, the pandemic has been an experience unlike anything else we’ve ever encountered. But for those from the Silent Generation and even the earliest Baby Boomers, like Marie Brisson of Wyandotte, MI, the pandemic brings back similar memories of childhood.

In 1949 Marie and her brother both contracted Polio and required hospitalization to survive. From the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the disease devastated many people — especially children around the world. Much like coronavirus, in the early years of the polio epidemic there was incredible uncertainty about how it was transmitted and what could be done to prevent it.

“My parents, they had to rely on the medical field… to keep us alive,” she recounts.

Flash-forward to the early months of 2020, Marie found herself in the hospital for a non-COVID illness, but again witnessed the tragedies of an unfamiliar disease first-hand.

“I could see the patients across from me…and the lights from the ventilators…and then you saw the lights go out and you knew what happened,” Marie said.

Marie sees the parallels between then and now, most notably that it’s science and modern medicine coming through with a vaccine to help get things back to normal.

“Getting the vaccine has brought some normalcy to my life. You have to trust the science. You have to trust the medical field. This is the only way we’ll get out of this.”

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Photo credit: Courtesy

 

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