Jonas Salk – This Week’s “Profile in Jewish American Heritage

In 1955, Polio was affecting more children than any other communicable disease. In 1956, a vaccine was declared to be safe and effective. It’s developer was a 40 year old medical researcher and virologist named Jonas Salk.

Dr. Salk was born in New York City, His parents were Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, who had not received extensive formal education.

By the end of 1990, an estimated 500,000 annual cases worldwide of paralysis resulting from polio had been prevented due to immunization programs carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and many other organizations, and in 1991, transmission of polio was declared as “interrupted” in the Western Hemisphere.

On May 6, 1985, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed that day to be “Jonas Salk Day”.