Jonas Salk was (and remains) a childhood hero of mine.
Today would have been his 100th Birthday. To celebrate the occasion, the Google Doodle in his honor is an earnest “Thank you Dr. Salk”
Before 1954, polio was a terror that preyed upon children. The introduction of the Salk vaccine was startling and swift:
In the two years before his vaccine was made widely available, the average number of polio cases in the US was more than 45,000. By 1962, that number had dropped to 910.
Sadly, in an age of anti-vaxx politics, such a simple “thank you” message is still needed and somewhat unfamiliar. There is a cognitive blind spot for recognizing the value of the ounce of prevention that eliminates the need for the pound of cure. According to a biography, even during the era when the polio virus was killing and crippling children, fear-mongers were present.
So let’s reflect on the incredible human achievement that is modern vaccines. In an development that would defy the belief of our ancestors, communicable diseases that were a tragic part of life, like polio and smallpox, have been tamed, so much so that we hardly give them a second thought – but we should.