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In the mid-20th century polio was a common disease leaving many American children paralyzed in its wake. The polio vaccine made a huge impact on the disease and since 1979 there have been no known natural cases of polio. The disease yet exists in other parts of the world, which is why it is important to get the polio vaccination.
In this video series, physicians at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia explain how vaccines work and how they are made. The video also describes several vaccines and the diseases they prevent. Families share their stories of children affected by vaccine-preventable diseases.
Paul A. Offit, MD: The next vaccine prevents a disease that most of us have heard of, but few of us have ever seen.
In the 1940s and 1950s, polio routinely paralyzed thousands of children and adults every year. Among them are a president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After an urgent search to find a way to prevent this infection, the first polio vaccine was made by a doctor named Jonas Salk. Dr. Salk made the polio vaccine by purifying polio virus and then making it harmless by adding a chemical that completely killed the virus. The success of the polio vaccine has been remarkable. No cases of natural polio have occurred in the United States since 1979 and the last case of natural polio in the entire Western Hemisphere occurred in Peru, in 1991. Unfortunately, because polio occurs regularly in some parts of the world, it's still important to get the vaccine.
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