Blogs > Cliopatria > A Vaccine's Anniversary

Apr 27, 2004 9:32 pm

A Vaccine's Anniversary

Here’s a CNN story on the 50th anniversary of Polio vaccine. I’m not sure that I was ever given the Salk vaccine. I do remember clearly standing in a long line for a chance to swallow a sugar cube with the Sabin vaccine.

But it was worth it. My family, including older siblings, remembered polio scares, and saw the damage done by the disease. That fear, and some sense of importance, got communicated to me (though like any kid I got really bored in that long line on a sunny day).

Times change. In the US, people are now encouraged to use the Salk vaccine, because it is slightly less dangerous. As this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article suggests, in countries where Polio is still common, the Sabin vaccine is the logical choice.

There is a lot of skepticism about medical research these days, and sometimes it’s justified. Profit and pride too often rule. So it is good to have anniversaries like this to remind us of what the best medical research does, when it is truly in the service of public health.

And they remind historians of how much recent history hinges on extraordinary revolutions in biology and health care.

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Jonathan Dresner - 4/29/2004

And I just read about it in history books. But I'd like to direct your attention to the fascinating article by Howard Markel ( which argues that we could be doing a lot more to initiate similarly powerful "turning points."

Name Removed at Poster's Request - 4/29/2004

I remember bald elementary school children who I was told had had polio, and educational materials that showed people in those massive "iron lung" machines. I am just three years younger than the vaccine.

Anne Zook - 4/29/2004

The merest of children. :) I remember getting the Salk vaccine as a child.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/28/2004

Oscar, You must be a mere child! One of my junior high classmates was crippled for life by polio. I well recall the annual summer scares, in which swimming pools were closed.

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