50th Anniversary of Polio Vaccine

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Dr. John Hall says: "It affected everybody. Healthy strapping young kids. Everybody."

Not too long ago people in the United States were plagued by a disease that left them crippled and some were unable to breathe.

"I remember what a devastating disease it was. And we'd go through the old general hospital and see people on Iron Lungs who couldn't breathe and paralyzed and dying. It was bad."

Polio is a disease of the central nervous system. For some it paralyzed their respiratory muscles and kept them from breathing.

"So they had to be put in the Iron Lung, which would automatically breathe for them.. Some never got off of it, some did."

Dr. Hall remembers when the vaccine for polio was first invented by Doctor Jonas Falk.

"It was on the downswing by the time I graduated medical school."

On April 12th 1955 the government granted permission for the polio vaccine to be distributed to children in our country. Long lines formed outside health clinics across America. Doctors used sugar to tempt the youngsters into taking it...

"A little square cube and in order to be sure they got it all down they'd just squirt a little pink solution pop it in the babies mouth, they like that sugar, and they got it all down."

According to the national health museum, in 1960, there were more than 25 hundred cases of polio in the U.S. By 1965 there were only 61.

"Now, this is almost completely worldwide eradicated. Just a few third world countries still have any cases and just think of the deaths and all the crippling it had done over the years."