Jonas Salk Vaccine

1206 Words 5 Pages
Although he is a prominent figure in the history of Pittsburgh, the life of Jonas Edward Salk did not begin in Pittsburgh. Jonas Salk, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants to the United States was born on October 28, 1914 in New York City. It was in New York City that he became the first member of his family to attend college by attending New York University and earning his medical degree in 1939. The next stop on Jonas Salk’s journey to Pittsburgh was at the University of Michigan. At the University of Michigan, Jonas Salk worked on a research fellowship that had the goal of creating an influenza vaccine. While here, he was lucky to reconnect with a friend and mentor from New York University, Thomas Francis Jr, who was instrumental in teaching …show more content…
Salk’s idea for a polio vaccine was different than what many others at the time believed would be effective because his vaccine consisted of a dead polio virus, while others preferred to use a partially killed virus. The first people to receive the vaccine that Salk developed were himself, his lab scientist, his wife, and their children. After it was determined that they developed anti-polio antibodies and experienced no negative reactions, Salk began to test the vaccine on more people in the Pittsburgh area. Over 600 Allegheny County volunteers, or “Polio Pioneers”, were among the very first to receive the vaccine at The University of Pittsburgh’s Virus Research Laboratory. On October 9, 1953 at the annual meeting of the Academy of Pediatrics, Doctor Jonas Salk announced that 637 children and adults from Allegheny County had received the new vaccine. The purpose of this early trial was to attempt to determine the optimum dosage of the vaccine, the number of inoculations, and the correct dose and frequency that would be safe and also …show more content…
This trial, which included nearly two million children, still stands among the largest national trials in the history of the United States. In the Pittsburgh area, the trial included first, second, and third grade students from nineteen Pittsburgh area schools such as St. Stephens in Hazelwood and Arsenal Elementary in Lawrenceville. During the trial, many of the participants were presented with a certificate and a button to designate them as a “Polio Pioneer” and to commemorate their participation in the national trial. In addition to the many children who received the vaccine, the trial also required approximately twenty thousand physicians, sixty-four thousand school personnel, and two hundred and twenty thousand volunteers. This year long trial led to Dr. Jonas Salk officially declaring his polio vaccine as “safe, potent, and effective” on April 12, 1955 at a gathering of approximately five hundred other scientists and reporters the University of Michigan, where his career and experience with vaccinations began. Soon after this announcement was made, a national immunization program was developed that reached 9 million children in the first year alone. Prior to 1955, approximately ten to twenty thousand polio cases were reported each year. Ten years after the introduction of Salk’s polio vaccine, only 61

Related Documents