The polio vaccine changed lives in the mid-1950s, a decade during which thousands of children were devastated by the disease. At its height in 1952, the virus infected nearly 60,000 children in the United States. Thousands of these children were paralyzed, and over 3,000 of them died from the epidemic. Summer of that year was a particularly brutal period for the disease, which is generally spread through contact with human feces. Many towns closed swimming pools, and moviegoers were advised not to sit next to one another to prevent any spread of germs. While many people suffering from the disease never exhibited polio symptoms, those who were struck with paralytic polio were left no choice but to stay in hospitals on life support.
Thankfully, virologist Jonas Salk and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh invented a polio vaccine in 1952. In 1954, they tested their creation on a group of children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; mass immunization would follow in 1955. The history of polio is heart-wrenching, as are the photos of both children and adults affected by the disease. Fortunately, the polio vaccine eventually eradicated the disease in America, a testament to the benefits of scientific progress in medicine.
In The 1950s, Polio Seemed Unstoppable
The Only Prevention For Polio Is Vaccination
Polio Is Highly Contagious And Spreads Through Sneezing, Coughing, And Feces
Vaccines Stopped The Disease From Occurring Naturally
Vaccinated Children Are 99% Protected From Polio
95% Of Polio Sufferers Show No Symptoms