In 1988, India had over 200,000 cases of polio reported. For the past three years, they’ve had 0. At the end of this month, the WHO will announce the end of polio in India.
America experienced the height of polio in the 1940s and ’50s, when about 35,000 people became disabled every year. Fear and panic spread and parents were known to warn their children to not drink from public water fountains, avoid swimming pools and stay away from crowded public places like movie theaters. Perhaps the most famous case of polio in America was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first president with a significant physical disability.
The development of the Salk and Sabine vaccines helped lead to eradication of polio in the United States in 1979. In India, too, vaccination was critical.
“There were three keys to our success,” Kapur says. “Immunize, immunize and immunize.”