Essays on Science and SocietyESSAY ON SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

A Brief History of Polio Vaccines

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Science  02 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5471, pp. 1593-1594
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5471.1593

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The rivalry between Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, the U.S. scientists who each developed an efficient polio vaccine, is legendary. In a Science & Society Essay, Blume and Geesink,. examine the pressures that prompted the United States to switch from the Salk inactivated polio vaccine to the Sabin live-attenuated oral vaccine in the 1960s. This move was followed by most of the world but not by the Netherlands, where exclusive production of the Salk vaccine was continued and, indeed, improved upon. The points the authors raise are particularly pertinent because the year 2000 sees the United States switching back to immunizing children with the Salk vaccine.