Today, for most people, the ravages of poliomyelitis are a distant memory
conjured up by black-and-white photographs of children with leg braces or
people encased in iron lungs.
But 50 years ago, the threat of polio was very real. The disease crippled
sons and daughters and led worried parents to keep their children out of swimming
pools for fear they would catch the virus. When scientists announced on April
12, 1955, that they had produced a vaccine that was “safe, effective,
and potent,” the accomplishment was heralded as one of the greatest
achievements of the 20th century.
Mitka M. Happy 50th Birthday, Salk Vaccine. JAMA. 2005;293(13):1581-1583. doi:10.1001/jama.293.13.1581