Date in History: 1955

Fifty years ago, in 1955, the Salk vaccine for polio was given to school children for the very first time.

Despite the vaccine, the disease still threatened young people throughout the nation. Fort Atkinson reported its first case of the season on September 1st and within a few days two more were reported. Watertown’s high school football team was temporarily quarantined when one of its players was hospitalized with polio. The dreaded disease was front page news almost everyday during the month. Doctors throughout the county encouraged their patients to get the vaccine though supplies were limited.

By year’s end almost 2,500 cases were reported in Wisconsin, eight of those in Fort Atkinson. Though a few cases were unfortunately caused by the very vaccine meant to prevent the disease, the vaccine was tremendously effective. The number of reported cases in 1956 fell off dramatically.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 11/21/2005.