Nevada Appeal at 150: April 12, 1955: Polio vaccine effective and safe, says report | NevadaAppeal.com
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Nevada Appeal at 150: April 12, 1955: Polio vaccine effective and safe, says report

TRIUMPHANTLY HOLDING two bottles of vaccine, Dr. Jonas E. Salk has moment of glory at Ann Arbor, Mich., as he learns his remedy is 80 to 90 percent effective in war on polio.

April 12, 1955: Polio vaccine effective and safe, says report

Ann Arbor, Mich., April 12 — The Salk anti-polio vaccine is 80-90 percent effective, Dr. Thomas Francis Jr. reported today in his long-awaited evaluation of last spring’s mass test on 1,800,000 children.

Francis said the vaccine was safe, effective and potent. He specified with among patients with bulbar polio, which is the killing and crippling type, it has produced “an extremely successful effect.”

Francis’ report on the vaccine, perfected by Dr. Jonas Salk, marked a brilliant victory in mankind’s long battle against diseases.

“There can be no doubt now that children can be inoculated successfully against polio. There can be no doubt that humanity can pull itself up by its own bootstraps and protect its children from the insidious invasion of ultra-microscopic disease,” the report read.

There was only one death from polio among the children who were vaccinated last spring. That child died after a tonsillectomy was performed two days after receiving the second polio vaccination in a series of three. The circumstances demonstrated that the viruses already were incubating in the child before any vaccine was administered.

The report emphasized the absolute safety of the vaccine. Only four-tenths of 1 percent of the vaccinated children had reactions, which were described as minor.

The report specified that the vaccine successfully stimulated the body into producing high levels of anti-bodies in most cases, and these high levels persisted “with but moderate decline after five months.”

This was the limit of time of the study and thus the report could not deal with how long the high levels actually last.

Shortly after the Francis evaluation report was released, Dr. Salk disclosed that only two inoculations of his polio vaccine, instead of three, will be needed to give the majority of children immunity during the 1955 polio season. His announcement meant that some 19,000,000 more children would be able to receive the vaccine by July.

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.