Polio Vaccine, Jonas Salk

The 1950s are often considered to be a safe and quiet decade when American families moved to the suburbs, drove large modern automobiles, and enjoyed a stable and prosperous economy. But beneath this tranquil scene, parents faced a great fear - the dreaded poliomyelitis, or polio, as it is commonly known. The disease had killed over thirteen hundred Americans (a large percentage were children) and crippled more than 18,000 in the year 1954 alone. On April 12, 1955, American received the much-welcomed news that Dr. Jonas Salk had developed a vaccine against the frightening disease. Immediately, the federal government implemented a plan to have the vaccine produced by six licensed pharmaceutical companies and distributed to children throughout the country. Within one year, the deaths attributed to polio declined by 50 per cent, and this downward trend continues to the present when polio has been totally eradicated in most of the world.

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