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HandWiki. Timeline of Polio. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 18 June 2024).
HandWiki. Timeline of Polio. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 18, 2024.
HandWiki. "Timeline of Polio" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 18, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 24). Timeline of Polio. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Timeline of Polio." Encyclopedia. Web. 24 November, 2022.
Timeline of Polio

This is a timeline of polio, describing major events, such as vaccine releases, historic epidemics, and major organizations.

polio vaccine timeline

1. Full Timeline

Confirmed cases of polio caused by wild virus in endemic countries (as of 2007) for the period 2000-2007. Cumulative.[1]
Confirmed cases of polio caused by wild virus in endemic and non-endemic countries for the period 2000-2007. Cumulative.[1]
Year/period Type of event Event Location
1789 Medical development British physician Michael Underwood is the first to give a clinical description of poliomyelitis.[2] United Kingdom
1840 Medical development German orthopaedist Jakob Heine becomes the first to write a medical report on poliomyelitis, and the first to recognize the illness as a clinical entity.[2] Germany
1894 Epidemic First poliomyelitis epidemic breaks out in the United States. Eighteen deaths and 132 cases of permanent paralysis are reported.[3] United States (Vermont)
1905 Epidemic Poliomyelitis epidemic breaks out in the Scandinavian peninsula. 1,031 cases are reported.[4][5] Sweden, Norway
1908 Scientific development Austrian physicians Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper discover the etiologic agent of poliomyelitis by identifying a virus when transmitting the disease to a monkey.[4] Austria (Vienna)
1910 Scientific development American scientists Simon Flexner and Paul Lewis suggest that poliovirus gain access to the central nervous system via the nasal mucosa. This hypothesis is supported by experiments with monkeys performed by Flexner’s group and other researchers.[4]  
1916 Epidemic Large epidemic of poliomyelitis breaks out in the United States. In New York City 9,000 cases and 2,343 deaths are reported, while toll nationwide is reported at 27,000 cases and 6,000 deaths.[6] United States
1927 Organization American politician Franklin D. Roosevelt founds Warm Springs Foundation for polio rehabilitation. In 1980 the facility is renamed Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. Today, the organization treats patients with post-polio symptoms, spinal cord injuries, strokes, and other disabilities.[7] United States (Georgia)
1928 Medical development American industrial hygienist Philip Drinker along with Louis Agassiz Shaw, Jr. develop the iron lung, a negative pressure ventilator that enables a person to breathe when normal muscle control has been lost or the work of breathing exceeds the person's ability. It becomes popular after its successful first use in a girl with poliomyelitis, showing dramatic recovery in a very short period of time.[8] United States
1931 Scientific development Australian scientists Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Jean Macnamara discover the existence of antigenic differences between strains of poliovirus, comparing the famous Rockefeller MV strain with a local strain isolated in Melbourne and further finding striking differences in cross-immunity experiments and neutralization tests in monkeys.[4] Australia
1935 Crisis Canadian researcher Maurice Brodie works in the development of a vaccine made from a killed strain of poliovirus. While successful in twenty laboratory monkeys, the trials fail when performed on humans. The same year, American researcher John A. Kolmer, working on his own vaccine using weakened poliovirus, fails even worse when a large number of children who were administered his vaccine become ill and many die.[9] United States
1939 Medical development American physician Charles Armstrong manages to adapt the Lansing strain of poliovirus to mice, making available for research purposes an animal far less expensive than the monkey.[4] United States
1940 Medical development Australian nurse Elizabeth Kenny introduces new treatment for polio, using warm compresses to relax painful, contracting muscles and massage for rehabilitation. Unconventional and controversial at the beginning, eventually this treatment becomes part of standard care for poliomyelitis.[10] United States
1948 Scientific development Team led by American biomedical scientist John Franklin Enders, at Harvard University, succeeds in culturing poliovirus in the laboratory outside of a living body. In 1949, the team publishes the experiments and findings, which would make mass production of vaccine possible. In 1954 the researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize.[9] United States
1953 Medical development American medical researcher Jonas Salk and his associates develop a potentially safe, inactivated (killed), injected polio vaccine. By 1955, the Salk vaccine is recognized as safe, effective and potent. Salk is hailed hero by the public and is granted a license to market his vaccine by the government.[9] United States
1955–1960 Medical development Polish American medical researcher Albert Sabin develops an oral polio vaccine. Initially overlooked due to Salk vaccine success, in 1957 the World Health Organization authorizes mass vaccination of children living in areas suffering from poliomyelitis epidemics. By 1959, about 4.5 million people in Russia have received the oral vaccine, making the incidence of polio in that country decrease markedly by 1959. Due to these results, the Sabin vaccine is licensed for use in the United States [9]  
1961 Report As a result of the first immunization campaigns, only 161 poliomyelitis cases are recorded in the United States, down from 35,000 in 1953 to 5,600 by 1957.[11] United States
1962–1970 Medical development The Salk vaccine is gradually replaced by the oral Sabin vaccine for most purposes because it is easier to administer and less expensive.[12][13] Worldwide
1979 Program launch Rotary International commits to provide oral polio vaccine to six million children in the Philippines as part of its new Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) program. Following the success of the program, Rotary begins to work with Albert Sabin on a plan to immunize all children against poliomyelitis.[14] Philippines
1980 Program launch Brazil implements National Immunization Days against infantile paralysis as part of the strategy to eliminate poliomyelitis. The initial objective is to achieve high coverage to interrupt transmission of poliovirus, with an established target of vaccinating 95% of children younger than five years with oral poliovirus vaccine. By 1989, a case of poliomyelitis in Brazil is confirmed for the last time.[15] Brazil
1981 Scientific development American researchers Vincent Racaniello and David Baltimore at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and team led by German American virologist Eckard Wimmer at State University of New York, publish the poliovirus genome. The researchers used an enzyme to switch the single strands of viral RNA to double strands of DNA and then determined the sequence of adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine encoding the five molecules that are the substance of the virus’s existence.[16] United States
1985 Program launch Rotary International announces a US$120 million pledge to its new PolioPlus program as a twenty-year commitment to immunize all children of the world against poliomyelitis by 2005. So far, Rotary has been the largest private sector donor to polio eradication, committing over US$600 million to the cause.[14][17] Worldwide
1985 Program launch The Universal Childhood Immunization Initiative is launched jointly by UNICEF and WHO, with the purpose of reducing child mortality through effective immunization.[14][18] Worldwide
1985 Program launch The Pan American Health Organization launches initiative to eradicate the indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus from the WHO region of the Americas by the end of 1990.[14] Americas
1988 Program launch The World Health Organization resolutes to eradicate poliomyelitis globally by 2000 through several delivery strategies, including reinforcement of existing initiatives such as National Immunization Days (NIDs) and sub-national immunization days. By 2016, the resolution was not achieved.[19]  
1988 Program launch The World Health Assembly (WHA) launches a global goal to eradicate poliomyelitis by 2000. This goal is further moved to stopping transmission by end of 2005.[14] Worldwide
1996 Program launch South African politician Nelson Mandela launches Kick Polio out of Africa campaign, with aims at eradicating the disease from Africa. By 2003, poliomyelitis remains in only three countries (Nigeria, Niger and Egypt) out of 46.[14][20] Africa
1999 Medical development inactivated polio vaccine replaces oral polio vaccine as recommended method of polio immunization in the United States.
1994 Achievement Following successful eradication programs such as that of Brazil, poliomyelitis is confirmed eliminated in the Americas.[15][21] Western Hemisphere
1999 Report The last case of wild poliovirus (WPVs) type 2 is reported.[22] India (Aligarh)
2002 Achievement European WHO region is certified free of poliomyelitis.[2] Europe, Turkey, ex USSR
2003 Epidemic Political and religious leaders of Kano, Zamfara, and Kaduna states in Nigeria bring the immunization campaign to a halt by calling on parents not to allow their children to be immunized. Polio immunization is suspended, thus leading to poliomyelitis outbreak and reinfecting at least other six countries (Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Sudan).[14][23] Africa
2004 Program launch Upon emergency meeting of Health Ministers committed to end polio transmission, a massive immunization campaign is conducted in 22 African countries, reaching 80 million children, becoming one of the World’s largest public health campaigns.[14][24] Africa
2012 Report Poliovirus serotype WPV3 is last reported.[25] Nigeria
2012 Report Poliomyelitis remains officially endemic in four countries.[2] Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan , India
2015 Achievement Poliovirus serotype WPV2 is declared eradicated worldwide.[22][25]  
2016 Report The only three endemic countries as of 2016 are Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.[21] Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan


  1. Gothefors, Leif (2008). "The Impact of Vaccines in Low- and High-Income Countries". Department of Clinical Sciences/Paediatrics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden 66 (2): 55–69. doi:10.1159/000129623. Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  2. "History of polio BBC". BBC News. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  3. "Polio cases report". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  4. Eggers, Hans J. (June 1999). "Milestones in Early Poliomyelitis Research (1840 to 1949)". J. Virol. 73 (6): 4533–5. doi:10.1128/JVI.73.6.4533-4535.1999. PMID 10233910.
  5. Smallman-Raynor, Matthew (2006). Poliomyelitis: Emergence to Eradication. ISBN 9780199244744. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  6. "Whatever happened to polio?". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  7. "Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  8. "Today in History: Iron Lung Used for the First Time (1928)". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  9. True Peters, Stephanie (2005). The Battle Against Polio. Marshall Cavendish. p. 45. ISBN 9780761416357. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  10. "Sister Kenny". Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  11. "POLIO: A REVIEW". International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research 4 (5). 2013. doi:10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.4(5).1714-24.
  12. Pearce, J M S (2004). "Salk and Sabin: poliomyelitis immunisation". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 75 (11): 1552. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2003.028530. PMID 15489385.
  13. Persson, Sheryl (April 2010). Smallpox, Syphilis and Salvation: Medical Breakthroughs that Changed the World. ISBN 9781921497575. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  14. "Kul Gautam – A History of Global Polio Eradication". Retrieved 19 March 2020. 
  15. Rocha MelloI, Maria Lúcia; Moraes, José Cássio; Brendan, Helena Aparecida; Flannery, Brendan (2010). "Participation in national polio immunization days: results of a vaccine coverage survey among children in 27 Brazilian cities". Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia 13 (2): 278–288. doi:10.1590/S1415-790X2010000200010.
  16. "The polio genome". Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  17. The Rotarian. 2001. p. 53. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  18. "International Notes Update: Progress Toward Eradicating Poliomyelitis from the Americas". Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  19. "National Immunization Day: a strategy to monitor health and nutrition indicators". Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  20. "Address by President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the "Kick Polio Out of Africa" Campaign". Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  21. "History of Polio ( Poliomyelitis )". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  22. "History of Polio". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  23. Jegede, Ayodele Samuel (2007). "What Led to the Nigerian Boycott of the Polio Vaccination Campaign?". PLOS Medicine 4 (3): e73. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040073. PMID 17388657.
  24. "West Africa mobilizes for final assault against polio". WHO. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  25. "Global eradication of wild poliovirus type 2 declared". Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
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