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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is not the first epidemiological issue that the population of Trinidad and Tobago had to be wary of

National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago is at National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago.

Did you know: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is not the first epidemiological issue that the population of Trinidad and Tobago has had to be wary of? In 1972, there was an outbreak of Poliomyelitis (polio) in Trinidad that was so bad, Carnival had to be postponed from February to May.
After a worldwide polio outbreak during the early 1900s, desperate attempts were made to find a vaccine. This search ended in 1957, when Albert Bruce Sabin, a Polish-American researcher, developed the oral polio vaccine. Using this vaccine, the government of Trinidad and Tobago embarked on a local vaccination campaign in 1967. However, due to inadequate follow-ups, only 10% of the country’s children had received the polio vaccine by 1971.
In December 1972, polio made a resurgence in Trinidad. During this time, primary schools remained closed and a country-wide vaccination program was implemented. Scheduled vaccinations occured in both primary and secondary schools, and later on, in government ministries. Common Entrance exams were postponed to April to accommodate these changes.
Most of the polio cases occurred in Manzanilla-Mayaro, Laventille and Moruga regions but because many health centres in Trinidad did not want to treat polio patients, they were all referred to the Port of Spain and the San Fernando General Hospitals. In total, there were 205 confirmed cases of poliomyelitis in Trinidad, and twelve casualties.
By May 1972, 85% of the population had been vaccinated. The Parade of the Bands finally took place that month, in spite of the rainy weather. The next year, this Carnival wash-out was memorialised by Lord Kitchener in his ever-popular calypso “Rainorama,” which won the Road March title in 1973.
[Photos from the front pages of the Trinidad Guardian, January 30th, 20th and 22nd, 1972. From NATT Newspaper Collection]
[References: “Poliomyelitis in Trinidad, 1971-1972” by Lawrence Schonberger M.D. and Milford Hatch (May 1972); “Poliomyelitis Era in Trinidad from 1940 to 1972 and Beyond” by Kathleen Mungrue and Vijay Kumar Chattu, The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care (July-August 2018); The Trinidad Guardian, January 1972] @ National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago

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