salkThe National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) sponsored polio vaccine researchers, including Dr. Jonas E. Salk and Dr. Albert B. Sabin. By 1954, Salk’s work had culminated in a prototype killed virus polio vaccine, which was soon evaluated in a massive clinical trial. The testing of over one million American children, as well as thousands in Canada and Finland, was part of the battle against polio in the 1950s. Subsequent to the licensing of the Salk vaccine in 1955, Sabin developed an attenuated oral vaccine, which was eventually licensed in America by August 1962. These two vaccines remain in use today.

Historical Scholarship

  • Colgrove, James. State of Immunity: The Politics of Vaccination in Twentieth-Century America. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006.
  • Meldrum, Marcia. “‘A Calculated Risk:’ The Salk Polio Vaccine Field Trials of 1954.”  British Medical Journal. 317 (October 31, 1998): 1233–1236.
  • Offit, Paul A. The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.
  • Oshinsky, David M. Polio: An American Story: The Crusade that Mobilized the Nation Against the 20th Century’s Most Feared Disease. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2010.
  • Smith, Jane S. Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1990.
  • Smith, Susan L. and Stephen E. Mawdsley, “Alberta Advantage: A Canadian Proving Ground for American Medical Research on Mustard Gas and Polio in the 1940s and 1950s,” in Locating Health: Historical and Anthropological Investigations of Place and Health, Studies for the Society for the Social History of Medicine, Erika Dyck and Christopher Fletcher eds. (London: Pickering & Chatto Publishers Ltd., 2010): 89-106.
  • Williams, Gareth. Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Additional Sources

  • Bookchin, Debbie and Jim Schumacher. The Virus and the Vaccine: The True Story of a Cancer-Causing Monkey Virus, Contaminated Polio Vaccine, and the Millions of Americans Exposed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004.