33¢ Polio Vaccine Developed
Celebrate the Century – 1950s
Issue Date: May 26, 1999
City: Springfield, MA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
Severe poliomyelitis epidemics have been reported all over the world. In the United States, the number of polio victims was at its highest from 1942 to 1953. During this time, epidemics also occurred in Denmark, Germany, Belgium, and several Asian countries.
In 1947, U.S. physician Jonas Salk began research on the polio virus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. After discovering there were three strains of the virus, he worked to develop a vaccine which would kill each one. He conducted his first field tests in 1952, first on children who had recovered from polio, and later on those who had never had the disease. Both tests were successful, and his findings were published the next year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In 1954, tests were done on an even larger scale. The vaccine, injected with a needle, was found to reduce the incidence of polio. The vaccine was released for use in the U.S. on April 12, 1955.
Dr. Albert Sabin also contributed to the victory over polio. He discovered that live, weakened virus, administered orally, would provide immunity over a longer period of time than killed, injected virus. After extensive research and testing, the oral polio vaccine was approved for use in the U.S. in 1961.