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Posted by BillB 
May 05, 2012 08:18PM
How many of you remember the polio epidemic?

It must have been the late '40s or early '50s. There were posters everywhere warning of the dangers of polio.
I remember the city swimming pools being closed a couple of Summers because of it.

I also remember taking my first polio shot in the second or third grade. The Salk vaccine had just been introduced.
Re: Polio
May 05, 2012 11:25PM
An older friend of mine had polio during that time and although she did recover, she still walks with a limp. I got my vaccine in a sugar cube.
Re: Polio
May 05, 2012 11:42PM
My sister had polio but made a 'full' recovery. Now, however, she has post-polio syndrome , which makes her day to day life rather difficult.

Re: Polio
May 06, 2012 08:03AM
My old memory must be getting worse. I started school in 1949 and vaguely remember gettin the polio vaccine in either the 4-5-6 grade-before I went on to Jr High in the seventh grade. But for some reason I thought it was the sugar cube and not the shot. Everyone had to go to the lunch room for the vaccine.

Re: Polio
May 06, 2012 08:26AM

I just looked it up.
The Salk was the first vaccine and it was a shot.
It was introduced in 1955, so I would have been in the 4th or 5th grade.

The sugar cube was the Sabin vaccine. It was first used in the US in 1960
Re: Polio
May 06, 2012 11:02AM
Here's a picture of my sister Terry, while being treated for polio at Scottish Rite Hospital The chap with her is Joe Christie.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/2012 11:29PM by scwk0511.
Re: Polio
May 06, 2012 04:13PM
I was in Lida Hooe Elem. in the early to mid-50s. Every time some kid had to go home early because a fever or "cold" The teachers would sweat it because of the polio epidemic.My mother was worried a lot. I didn't bother me. The media then was full of pictures of iron lungs and pitiful kids with leg braces. Ultimately I got the sugar cube. The Salk was vaccine given thru a needle and the Sabin was P.O. What DID bother me were the periodic scalp exams for lice or ringworm. I didn't want my head shaved and have to wear a toboggan....a knitted winter cap. I remember the school nurse picking around in my hair with a gloved hand. I could hear her say, "Hmmmm.. that looks suspicious"...Old b..ch. Jim
Re: Polio
May 06, 2012 08:31PM
I got my vaccine via the sugar cube in 1960. We had to go stand in line at the school (Margaret B. Henderson) for what seemed like hours. I remember standing in a very long line out on the sidewalk with my parents and sister. I can recall being thrilled to get a sugar cube and not a needle. Later, I had to have the small pox vaccine before I could start school and it was the worst of any of the vaccines. Still have the scar.

I, too, remember those ringworm exams where the school nurse made you sit in the dark while shining a UV light on you scalp. I always thought it was one of the odder things we did at school.
Re: Polio
May 07, 2012 05:12AM
I was at Lida Hooe Elem. in the mid 40's to the early 50's and remember the scare very well, the teachers & nurse were very careful with us....I had an Aunt (Patricia Tumey) who had Polio but recovered pretty well.....she was also at Lida Hooe at one time but in late 30's, early 40's....remember when they closed the Lida Hooe Cement Pool and sadly to me, Lake Cliff Pool somewhere back in that time......Bill Strouse
Re: Polio
May 07, 2012 08:47PM
I could not have told you the year a polio vaccine became available. I do remember all the scares. I started school in 1943 and by the time I was a sixth grader there was a lot of opinion about how to avoid polio. "Don't go swimming. Don't go near that new house that is being built because you'll catch it from the construction workers. Etc., etc." And so it went although I don't know that the means of transmission was really known. If public pool's were a cause I suppose I was lucky - I walked to the pool closest to me a couple of times a day several summers. I don't remember any of my childhood friends becoming a victim. I did meet people later who had grown up not far from me and who were victims. And I do think my parents made sure I got the vaccine as soon as it was available in our area.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2012 08:49PM by vft_refectory.
Re: Polio
May 08, 2012 04:45PM
Jonas Salk invented the Polio vaccine. wide scale testing in 1954

this is an excellent book about the discovery
Splendid Solution: Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio
Re: Polio
May 08, 2012 10:13PM
thank god for the scottish rite hospital that treated many polio victims free of charge

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2012 10:14PM by rojinks.
Re: Polio
May 09, 2012 12:03AM
my sister got her treatment there.

Re: Polio
May 09, 2012 04:28PM
I read up on it a little more.

1952 was the height of the polio epidemic in this country.

"Of the nearly 58,000 cases reported that year; 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis. Statistically, more children died of polio in 1952 than of any other infectious disease."

The 58,000 cases was almost double those of 1951.

The linked article makes a case that the polio epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s were caused by the widespread use of the flush toilet...interesting, if true.


I saw another article that credited the March of Dimes with defeating polio. I'll read it and post a link, if anyone is interested.
Re: Polio
May 09, 2012 07:39PM
One of my old boyfriends - a super guy - lived in Houston when the epidemic hit. He and one or two of his siblings were affected and he was left on crutches. He could fly down the stairs at home like 5 or 6 steps at a time. I believe he was the first "poster boy" for the Salk vaccine and was pictured sitting in a pile of ampules (is that the word?).
He rarely used the handicapped parking spaces then and it still ticks me off seeing people who do so just because they have a permit.
Re: Polio
May 10, 2012 09:00AM
Read that Toilet Link with great interest, my next door neighbor, on Grove Street had Polio and I remember her in an Iron Lung, probably in 1950-52 era. Her little brother and I were best friends back then. Think that was the end of swimming at White Rock Lake area also. Seems 1916 was a bad era for Polio also and my dads brother died from it back then. Thanks for that link on sanitation caused health problems. Seems as though I remember Jonas Salk saying before he died, he really did not think he had cured polio that it had cured it self? I know I got the shot as it was required by the Dallas I.S.D. to stay in school,
Re: Polio
May 10, 2012 11:27AM
The differences between the Salk vaccine and Sabin vaccines are interesting. Salk developed a vaccine that used particles of dead virus to allow the body to create an immunity to the disease. Salk's vaccine was highly effective but it's credibility was badly damaged by a vaccine manufacturer who failed to follow proper manufacturing procedures and produced batches that introduced the live, virulent virus into otherwise healthy patients, causing them to contract polio.. This lead to the adoption of the Sabin vaccine which is a live, but attenuated, strain of the virus. This vaccine induces effective immunity in most cases, but unfortunately leads to polio in about 1 in 750,000 recipients. Polio, much like the small pox virus, does not have other species in which it exists and can be eradicated by eliminating its ability to transfer from one human to another through effective use of vaccination.
Re: Polio
May 11, 2012 09:36AM
I remember when Polio was called Infantile Paralysis. My aunt had it at age 12 and my grandmother used to wrap her legs in hot towels. She is 83 now and uses a walker but is still sharp mentally.
Re: Polio
May 20, 2012 08:33AM
My mom was born in 1931 and most of her childhood was spent in Lakeland Terrace. I don't know what year this was but one summer almost all of her friends were required to stay indoors because their parents were so afraid of polio.

As soon as they found out she had been to movie theaters and public swimming pools some of her friend's mothers wouldn't allow them to have any contact with them. The moms were certain she had contracted polio and would pass it on to their children. She said that was a lonely summer for her, and no, she didn't contract polio.

Polio was still a major cause for concern when I was a child and parents and doctors made a very big deal about getting polio shots.

By the time I was 6 you could take the vaccine in sugar cubes and I recall walking to George Peabody Elementary on what seems to have been a Sunday evening sometime before I started school there in September 1962.

My next door neighbor is in her 80s and is the only person I've ever personally known with polio.
Re: Polio
October 03, 2012 10:25AM
My sister was one of the experimental group of children given the Salk vaccine when she was 6 years old. I remember my parents discussing whether to allow her to have the vaccine. We lived in Big Spring, Texas at the time, and moved to Dallas that same year. The experimental trial was halted partway through and the vaccine released for general use. However, not all became vaccinated for some years.

My nephew (child of an older sister) was born around 1955, and had a bad cold in infancy. Turns out it was polio, and one leg never grew to normal size. He is now 57 years old, and still wears a brace, but otherwise seems to be physically strong.

I got my polio innoculation as the Sabin on sugar cubes around 1960 or '61, at a church on Clarendon Drive in Cockerel Hill. The whole family went down and got the sugar cube. As I recall, we had to go three times. I was a sophomore at Kimball H.S. at the time.

My wife never got polio vaccine as a child, as her family rejected vaccines for religious reasons. She has more sense now. But I did not know she had not been vaccinated until we needed to update immunizations for travel some time after we married. Boy, she sure had to get a bunch of shots, plus the Sabin, this time as just a squeeze of liquid from a small plastic vial like they give to children.
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