Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine

Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine

Katherine E. Krohn
Illustrator:  Al Milgrom 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 8 to 10
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-0736864831

When they saw how Dr. Jonas Salk had been developing a flu vaccine which protected people from many strains of the flu, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) hired Jonas to study polio, a dreaded disease which handicapped, paralyzed or killed many of its victims. Polio was widespread and it destroyed the lives of many children all over the world. In 1950 the NFIP gave Jonas funding to develop a vaccine for the disease. Jonas was determined that he would use a killed virus to make the vaccine, even though this approach was not popular in the scientific community.

After many tests were carried out on both monkeys and on human children, Jonas determined that the vaccine that he and his team had developed did indeed give the children who had received it immunity to polio. In 1954 the vaccine was given to children all over the country in a nationwide study. The results proved that the vaccine worked and soon thousands of children were being vaccinated. There was a frightening setback when some of the children developed polio. Jonas discovered that some of the companies who were making the vaccine where not adhering to the protocols that he had given them. He was furious and the companies in question were watched very carefully after that to make sure that such a mistake was never repeated.

Thanks to the hard work of Jonas Salk and his colleagues, children and their parents in much of the world no longer have to live in fear of polio. Once again children can play in pools and go to theatres in the summer, and never again will hospitals be filled with children who need “iron lungs” to breath for them. Readers of this graphic rich biography will quickly come to understand that Jonas Salk was a man who believed very strongly in what he was doing, going the extra mile to make sure that his work helped people and freely giving away his discoveries for the good of all.