Mass Polio Vaccines in Pennsylvania

Polio Vaccine and Dr. Jonas Salk administering first vaccines in 1955.

Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is a terrible illness that affected throngs of children that could lead to a stiffness of the limbs, muscle deterioration, paralysis and even death. Thankfully, virologist Jonas Salk invented a vaccine injection in 1955, which would stamp out the ailment and change the lives of millions.

President Franklin Roosevelt suffered from the illness and made it a mission to solve the problem for his citizens. With a grassroots organization known as the March of Dimes, the president commissioned the expert assistance of Salk, who was the head of virus research in the University of Pittsburgh.

Salk identified the varying strains of the bacteria that caused the symptoms and produced a vaccine to polio using formalin.

Children in Arsenal Elementary School received the shots of the preliminary treatment in 1954 through a mass inoculation trial, which received great national publicity. 623,972 school children were injected with the solution while a million other children participated as control participants for the experiment.

The results were highly successful in curbing the disease.
This discovery eventually led to the development of a commercial pill-form of the vaccination by Dr. Albert Sabin in 1961, which eradicated most of the disease in the civilized world.

Polio Vaccine Announcement, April 12, 1955

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