Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk, 1956

Before Jonas Salk’s vaccine was introduced in 1955, polio was considered one of the most serious public health problems in the world, and epidemics were increasingly devastating in the post-war United States. The 1952 U.S. epidemic, in which 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with some form of paralysis, was the worst polio outbreak in the nation’s history, and most of its victims were children.

News of the vaccine’s success was first made public on April 12, 1955. Salk was immediately hailed as a “miracle worker”, and chose to not patent the vaccine or seek any profit from it in order to maximize its global distribution. An immediate rush to vaccinate began in both the United States and around the world. Many countries began polio immunization campaigns using Salk’s vaccine, including Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, West Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium. Less than 25 years later, domestic transmission of polio had been completely eliminated in the United States. Read more (Wikipedia)

See more portraits of Dr. Salk.