The Anti-Vaccination Movement and the Salk vs. Sabin Controversy

Topics: Polio vaccine, Vaccination, Vaccine Pages: 8 (2550 words) Published: August 15, 2010
The anti-vaccination movement and the Salk vs. Sabin controversy; was the public harmed and if so, to what effect?


Vaccines have been shown to have the ability to prevent mortality and morbidity from infectious diseases. Many argue that this has been a great public health success story. Proponents argue that it is one of the few medical measures that provide a universal benefit in a cost-effective manner. Despite this, or possibly because of this, there is a growing number of people who are taking exception with the concept of mandatory vaccination for the prevention of disease. These individuals are actively joining the anti-vaccine movement. There are a number of factors that seem to contribute to the current trend of anti-vaccine sentiment. This paper will examine the history and provide insight into the growth of the anti-vaccine movement. Finally, a number of suggestions for addressing the concerns of the anti-vaccine movement will be presented.

Purpose of the paper

As one studies the topic of the anti-vaccine movement, many conclusions can be made regarding it’s actual genesis. Of course, many medical treatments have detractors who argue about the safety and efficacy. I will be seeking to answer a number of questions. For example, why is the anti-vaccination community so large and vocal? What is the historical context of the anti-vaccination movement and is there a connection to the choices made by the United States Government regarding the vaccination policy? A focus will be made to find data on whether or not the use of the Sabin live attenuated polio virus instead of Dr. Salk’s killed virus vaccine had an impact on the anti-vaccination movement. What are the factors that have amplified the detractors of modern vaccine practice and theory? In this paper, I will address the issues surrounding this decision of the government and attempt to further explain basic issues on both side of this controversial dilemma.

I will also attempt to investigate and find evidence addressing the specific question; did the decision of the United States Government in the 1950’s to administer the Sabin live attenuated oral polio virus (OPV) instead of Dr. Salk’s killed virus vaccination (IPV) to the general population effect or amplify the current controversy regarding modern vaccine practice and theory in the United States and what factors have had an impact on this movement and what are the implication of this?

Literature Review

In the literature, there is a plethora of published articles on the anti-vaccination issue. There are a number of historical factors that appear to have affected the move against compulsory vaccination although none seem to be specifically related to the OPV vs. IPV issue. Many other arguments have been formed to reduce the perceived benefit of vaccination. For example, evidence has been found to support that allegation that polio vaccines have, in the past, been contaminated with the SV40 virus which has been linked to causing thyroid, lymphatic, pituitary and other cancers (Int’l Council on health 2001). From 1980 through 1999, a total of 152 confirmed cases of paralytic poliomyelitis were reported, an average of 8 cases per year. Six cases were acquired outside the United States. The last of these imported cases of polio were reported in 1993. Two cases were classified as indeterminate (no poliovirus isolated from samples obtained from the patients, and patients had no history of recent vaccination or direct contact with a vaccine recipient). The remaining 144 (95%) cases were identified in the literature as vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP). This means that these were otherwise disease free individuals that became sick because of the fact that the polio virus used in the OPV was not fully attenuated. (CDC Pink Book 2009)

Furthermore during the 1970s, incidences of poliomyelitis continued to occur in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, despite high...

References: International Council for Health Freedom Newsletter, 5 (2001) Polio vaccines tainted
with CA virus
The Pink Book: Course Textbook, 11th Edition (May 2009) Epidemiology and Prevention
of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
Tulchinsky T H, Goldblum N, Polio Immunization, (2001) The New England Journal of
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Retrieved May 20, 2010 from
Letter to the Editor, Dynamic Chiropractic February 13, 1995
Alexander, Lorraine Nino (2004) Vaccine Policy Changes and Epidemiology of
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