One small step can change so much

Sarah Flanagan
Posted 4/12/24

On April 12, 1955, Jonas Salk invented the Polio vaccine.  This changed the future of Polio in the United States. 

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

One small step can change so much


On April 12, 1955, Jonas Salk invented the Polio vaccine.  This changed the future of Polio in the United States.  “Salk was hailed as a miracle worker. He further endeared himself to the public by refusing to patent the vaccine. He had no desire to profit personally from the discovery, but merely wished to see the vaccine disseminated as widely as possible.” ( I recently did a presentation about Polio at the April 2024 Daughters of the American Revolution meeting.  I spoke about Rotary and how important Polio eradication is to them.  There are still two countries in the world that have polio cases, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Polio affects most children under the age of five and can leave lifelong medical issues. I am a member of both of these organizations and enjoy attending meetings and working to make a difference in our local community and our world. Just one small step can change so much.  Little by little we are getting closer to ending Polio. 

Hopefully the Iron Lung is something that we will never see again.  Those large, oversized steel tank cylinders helped to keep many patients alive by using negative airway pressure.  It provided them with a place to rest and keep their muscles working naturally.  As the pressure in the tank lowered, it caused the body to naturally take a breath in. “The respiration chamber functioned via external negative pressure ventilation (ENPV). Air would be sucked out of the chamber, which would cause a patient’s chest to expand, filling the lungs with precious oxygen, even when the patient’s muscles were incapable of doing so. Then, air would be let back into the chamber, causing the lungs to deflate and allowing the patient to exhale.” ( This was great therapy for paralyzed lungs and chest muscles.  Many patients in these felt isolated and withdrawn.  They spent hours in the Iron Lung and learned to do things like reading, while in the artificial lung.  If you were to get Polio now, you would be intubated and placed on a ventilator, which uses positive airway pressure to push air into your lungs. This allows for better control of patient ventilation.

Franklin Roosevelt contracted Polio as an adult.  He suffered paralysis of his legs and wore braces on them when he tried to stand or walk.  Many times he was in his wheelchair.   Roosevelt was a great advocate for polio survivors and started the March of Dimes Foundation.

At the library, we have many different non-fiction books on different topics. We try to provide information on most subjects and allow patrons to find factual information.  If we do not have something, we can order it through our Prairie Cat Library catalog.  If you want to explore books about President Roosevelt or health topics like Polio, just ask.  We want to be the first place you think of when you need reliable information.  See you soon.  Remember your library card.  

Sarah Flanagan is the library director of the Flagg-Rochelle Public Library District.