Today’s Illustration: The Last Epidemic

11 Away From 3,000

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Who: Jonas Salk

  • Born October 28, 1914
  • Born in New York City
  •  A medical student at New York University
  • 1947 — head of a research laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh [1]
  • 1948 — was awarded a grant to study the poliovirus and develop a possible vaccine [1]
  • 1950 — developed an early version of his polio vaccine. [1]
  • 1977 — “Among other honors, Jonas Salk was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”[3]
  • 1995 — “He died in La Jolla, California. “[3] — age 80

What: March 26, 1953 — The announcement by Jonas Salk, on radio, that he had developed a vaccine for polio.

  • poliomyelitis
  • “infant paralysis” – because it primarily impacted children
  • 1952 — an epidemic year of polio
  • 58,000 cases
  • 3,000 died
  • “The March of Dimes” campaign was instituted to help pay for the research to eradicate polio.
  • Typical treatments: Quarantine and the use of an iron lung which assisted the patient to breath
  • Announcement: March 26, 1953

“Salk conducted the first human trials on former polio patients and on himself and his family, and by 1953 was ready to announce his findings. This occurred on the CBS national radio network on the evening of March 25 and two days later in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Salk became an immediate celebrity.” [1]

  • “In 1954, clinical trials using the Salk vaccine and a placebo began on 1.3 million American schoolchildren. [1]
  • “In April 1955, it was announced that the vaccine was effective and safe, and a nationwide inoculation campaign began.”
  • Over 200,000 people received a defective polio vaccine, produced by Cutter Laboratories in Berkley, California — “Thousands of polio cases were reported, 200 children were left paralyzed and 10 died.”  That accident resulted in a delay and caution in the vaccination program. [1]
  • “Of the three serotypes of wild poliovirus, type 2 was certified as eradicated in 2015 and type 3 was certified as eradicated in 2019.” [2]
  • There were 22 reported cases in 2017 — [3]
  • Only two countries have not eradicated it — Pakistan and Afghanistan [3]
  • “Without our polio eradication efforts, more than 18 million people who are currently healthy would have been paralyzed by the virus.” [2]
  • 1957 — polio cases dropped from 58,000 to under 6,000
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio in 1921, at the age of 39
  • “Franklin Roosevelt later transformed his estate in Warm Springs, Georgia, into a recovery retreat for polio victims.” [1]


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

  • biblical examples of disease and healing
  • man’s intellect
  • sickness
  • health
  • life/ death
  • disease
  • no more sorrow, sickness, dying
  • leprosy
  • miracles
  • healing
  • “who did sin, this man or his parents”
  • Eternity: looking forward to the last epidemic


Sermonic Example: 

(include whatever details you find useful)

. . . . Leprosy was the plague, the disease that men feared in biblical days — There were no Dr. Jonas Salks who had a cure. But some prophets had been given the divine power to effect a cure — The account involves three men — The prophet Elisha, Gehazi, and Naaman. . . .


Other Information & Links:




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