Today, for the Letter "V" I'm talking about the polio vaccination. When I was young, polio was a dreaded disease. People didn't know what caused it, but those that contracted the disease were often left crippled, and many died. I remember friends of mine with the disease. My parents worried about my sister and me. Sometimes they wouldn't let us go swimming. What if we caught polio at the pool? They didn't know. Thankfully today, it's mostly a disease of the past.
Here's a bit of history:
On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on a radio show that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that caused the crippling disease of polio. In 1952, an epidemic year for polio, 58,000 new cases were reported in the United States. More than 3,000 died.
Polio has affected humans throughout recorded history. It attacks the nervous system and can cause degrees of paralysis. The virus is easily transmitted, so epidemics were common in the first decades of the 20th century. Early treatments were quarantines and the "iron lung," a metal coffin-like contraption that helped the patient breathe. Children are especially susceptible to polio, but adults can have it too. Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio in 1921, age 39, and was partially paralyzed.
In 1954, clinical trails using the Salk vaccine and a placebo began on two million American school children. April 1955, it was announced as safe. A nationwide inoculation campaign began, and new polio cases dropped to under 6,000 in 1957. Albert Sabin, a Polish-American researcher developed an oral vaccine in 1962.
This 1963 poster featured CDC's national symbol of public health, the "Wellbee" encouraging people to get the oral polio vaccine.
I remember my husband, boys, and me standing in line at the neighborhood school, waiting for our little sugar cube of vaccine. Today there are just a handful of polio cases in the U. S. Most of these are from Americans from visiting some nations where polio is still a problem.
And now you know.