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Chronicles Dr. Salk's successful efforts to develop and test a vaccine for polio, from a small laboratory experiment to the first and largest national vaccination campaign
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Paralytic polio went from epidemic outbreak to near-extinction in 50 years. This medical triumph involved more than the daring of Jonas Salk, who developed a killer-virus vaccine against the advice of his colleagues, and of his rival Albert Sabin, whose oral live-virus vaccine is now widely used. The war on polio is also the story of the March of Dimes, mass field-testing of the vaccine on schoolchildren, accidental deaths, scientists jockeying for prestige and power, and the importation of large numbers of monkeys. A Northwestern University visiting scholar, Smith unconvincingly links FDR's struggle with crippling polio to the nation's turning "to the language of polio" in the 1930s ("Business was 'paralyzed,' the economy was 'crippled' "). Her contention that the 1950s vaccination program drew popular support from the Cold War's "atmosphere of mass vulnerability" seems dubious, as do some of her sociological interpretations. Even so, this exciting, dramatic narrative tells a comprehensive story of the conquest of polio and sheds fresh light on the politics of medicine. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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