Episode 13: 616.835-The Polio Epidemic and Vaccines

This week, Katie is bewitched with the polio epidemic and vaccines. 

As the U.S. takes its first tentative steps toward post-COVID life with the massive roll-out of vaccines, Katie takes time to reflect on another virus that changed our world: Polio. For decades, parents lived in fear of summer- time polio outbreaks. Children went from happy and healthy to iron lungs in a matter of days. As a result, public pools closed. Adolescents were banned from movie theaters, and parents everywhere hoped and prayed for a vaccine that would keep their children safe. The Polio vaccines continue to provide relief from this debilitating virus all over the world. Will we allow the COVID vaccines to do their work, too?

The Royal We series by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Growing Things by Paul Tremblay

Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky

The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis by Paul A. Offit

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Three Minutes for a Dog: My Life in an Iron Lung by Paul R. Alexander

Nemesis by Philip Roth

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Severance by Ling Ma


Abramson, Mark A. “History Does Repeat Itself: Lessons from the Polio Vaccine.” Government Executive, Government Executive, 14 Apr. 2021, http://www.govexec.com/management/2020/07/history-does-repeat-itself-lessons-polio-vaccine/167068/. 

Alexander, Paul R., and Norman D. Brown. Three Minutes for a Dog…: My Life in an Iron Lung. FriesenPress, 2020. 

Chamberlain, Diane. The Stolen Marriage. Griffin, 2021. 

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Parents PACK Personal Stories-Polio.” Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 4 Dec. 2014, http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/parents-pack/personal-stories/polio#.Vry9fPkrJmM. 

Cocks, Heather, and Jessica Morgan. The Royal We. Grand Central Publishing, 2020. 

Ducharme, Jamie. “Why ‘New’ COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects Are Totally Expected.” Time, Time, 22 Apr. 2021, time.com/5957222/covid-vaccine-side-effects/. 

Fitzpatrick, Michael. “The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to a Growing Vaccine Crisis.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, The Royal Society of Medicine, Mar. 2006, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1383764/. 

History of Polio. http://www.historyofvaccines.org/timeline/polio. 

“History of Polio.” BBC News, BBC, 25 Sept. 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/health-17045202. 

“How We Know the COVID Vaccine Won’t Have Long Term Side Effects.” The University of Western Australia, http://www.uwa.edu.au/news/article/2021/march/how-we-know-the-covid-vaccine-wont-have-long-term-side-effects. 

Ma, Ling. Severance. The Text Publishing Company, 2020. 

Offit, Paul A. The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis. Yale University Press, 2007. 

Oshinsky, David M. Polio: an American Story. Oxford University Press, 2006. 

“Our Progress Against Polio.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Mar. 2021, http://www.cdc.gov/polio/progress/index.htm. 

“Polio Survivor Stories.” Marchofdimes.ca, http://www.marchofdimes.ca/en-ca/programs/postpolio/pss/Pages/Polio-Survivor-Stories.aspx. 

“Polio Survivor Stories.” PA Polio Survivors Network, http://www.papolionetwork.org/survivor-stories.html. 

“Polio through History.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., http://www.britannica.com/science/polio/Polio-through-history. 

Rodriguez McRobbie, Linda. “The Man in the Iron Lung.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 26 May 2020, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/26/last-iron-lung-paul-alexander-polio-coronavirus. 

Rogers, Naomi. “Race and the Politics of Polio: Warm Springs, Tuskegee, and the March of Dimes.” American Journal of Public Health, © American Journal of Public Health 2007, May 2007, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1854857/. 

Roth, Philip. Nemesis. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. 

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Picador, 2017. 

“Vaccine Types.” Vaccines, http://www.vaccines.gov/basics/types. 

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