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Jonas Salk developed the Polio vaccine in 1954 to immunize children from this crippling disease. Polio was the most frightening disease of the early twentieth century, as its means of transmission was largely unknown but its effects were devastating, either killing or permanently crippling its victims. Its most famous victim was Franklin D. Roosevelt, later President of the United States, who was confined to a wheel chair because of the disease. Almost everyone of age in the early 1940's and 1950's knew someone affected by the disease. My spouse was one of those affected, and has a deformed foot as a result.
The vaccine was tested on over one million school children in 1954. This writer was a participant in those trials--we were lined up, marched to the school cafeteria, and injected with the vaccine. When the results were announced--that the vaccine was effective--Americans and other people of the world rejoiced with church bells ringing and people openly weeping in the streets. Dr. Salk was the hero of an entire generation. Modern medicine has developed other vaccines; but the Salk vaccine will remain the miracle of the 1950's.
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