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|Polio Immunization Campaign
The effectiveness of the Salk vaccine for poliomyelitis was well established in 1958, but more paralytic polio occurred in the United States in 1958 than in 1957, primarily because of the failure of many persons to take advantage of the vaccine. Some 41 million children and adults under 40 years of age remained unvaccinated in December 1958, although a nationwide campaign had reduced that figure from the 66 million reported in December 1957.
An epidemic in Wayne County, Michigan (Detroit metropolitan area) sent hundreds of patients to hospitals and dozens to iron lungs. By mid-October 1958 Wayne County had reported 758 polio cases and 19 deaths, and more were being reported daily. Programs were started to vaccinate those who had waited too long to have their Salk shots.
About 13.2 million people received the recommended dosage of three or more polio vaccine shots between the fall of 1958 and the fall of 1959. By year's end about 68 million Americans had three or more injections and about 87 million had had at least one. However, more than 34 million people under 40 years of age, or about 30 per cent of this group, had yet to be vaccinated. In 1959 the vaccine proved to be at least 90 per cent effective in protecting persons who had three or more doses. The least protected group -- children under 5 years -- accounted for 43 per cent of the 1959 paralytic cases.
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This page was last updated on 09/30/2017.