Preventing Polio with Salk's Vaccine: "Unconditional Surrender"

Polio, a disease which also existed in ancient times, is incurable.  Even today, despite all our technological and medical advances, the illness cannot be cured.

It can, however, be prevented.

This clip, from "Unconditional Surrender" - a film about polio and the first preventive vaccine by Dr. Jonas Edward Salk and his colleagues - takes us behind the scenes in the 1950s when polio was quickly and consistently spreading among children throughout America.  In 1952, for example, an outbreak of polio caused many people to be placed in iron lungs.

Some individuals with polio had to live in iron lungs for decades (for the rest of their lives).

On the 26th of February, 1954, Dr. Salk and other health-care providers began the first mass-testing of the vaccine.  Children lined-up in the Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning, at the University of Pittsburgh - the place where Dr. Salk and his team created the vaccine -  to be innoculated.

The following year - on the 12th of April, 1955 - Dr. Salk's vaccine was declared "safe and effective" for the prevention of polio.

The Salk vaccine consisted of one initial shot and two additional "boosters." 

This documentary also explains how the vaccine was processed and what occurred after the mass-testing proved the innoculations were 78% effective (even with just the first shot).

In the clip we meet Randy Kerr, the first child to get the innoculations after the vaccine trials were concluded. 

Salk's vaccine (which utlized inactivated poliovirus) was injected.  Dr. Albert Sabin's vaccine, which followed Salk's by a few years, used a low-grade form of active poliovirus which children could take by mouth.

Both vaccines are still used throughout the world to prevent children and adults from contracting the disease which can be both paralyzing and deadly.

See, also:

"Could You Patent the Sun?"

Media Credits

"Unconditional Surrender," a film about polio and the first preventive vaccine, is online courtesy Library of Congress.




To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Preventing Polio with Salk's Vaccine: "Unconditional Surrender"" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 20, 2020.
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