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American Public Health Association (APHA) Executive Director Citation, New Orleans

Salk, Jonas. "Poliomyelitis Vaccine in the Fall of 1955." American Journal of Public Health 46 (1), 1956: 1–14.
Salk, Jonas. “Poliomyelitis Vaccine in the Fall of 1955.” American Journal of Public Health 46 (1), 1956: 1–14.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is honoring Dr. Jonas Salk posthumously during the centenary year of his birth today at the APHA 142nd Annual Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans.

Peter Salk speaks at the 2014 CCNY centenary symposium. Image courtesy of CCNY.
Peter Salk speaks at the 2014 CCNY centenary symposium. Image courtesy of CCNY.

Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., APHA Executive Director, will present the Executive Director Citation to Peter L. Salk, M.D. following a screening of the trailer for The Shot ‘Felt Round the World. You can follow the event on twitter at #APHA14@PublicHealth and @APHAAnnualMtg.

Jonas Salk became an APHA Fellow in 1949, and published several seminal articles in The American Journal of Public Health, which is APHA’s house journal. In honor of today’s award, we’ll take a closer look at these publications, which span Jonas Salk’s early work on influenza with Tommy Francis as well as the development and use of the polio vaccine.

Jonas Salk’s American Journal of Public Health publications, 1944–1957
Thomas Francis, Jr, Harold E. Pearson, Jonas E. Salk, and Philip N. Brown.  Immunity in Human Subjects Artificially Infected with Influenza Virus, Type B. American Journal of Public Health and the Nations Health: April 1944, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 317-334. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.34.4.317
Immunity in Human Subjects Artificially Infected with Influenza Virus, Type B. April 1944. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.34.4.317

Salk’s first article in the American Journal of Public Health was published in 1944 and co-authored with Tommy Francis, Harold Pearson and Philip Brown.  [PDF]

Francis et al  induced infection with Influenza Type B by nasal spray. After four months, they challenged 24 subjects with reinfection and demonstrated diminished response to influenza in test subjects. This work contributed to the development of the influenza vaccine.

Thomas Francis, Jr., Jonas E. Salk, and J. J. Quilligan, Jr..  Experience with Vaccination Against Influenza in the Spring of 1947. American Journal of Public Health and the Nations Health: August 1947, Vol. 37, No. 8, pp. 1013-1016. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.37.8.1013
Thomas Francis, Jr., Jonas E. Salk, and J. J. Quilligan, Jr. 1947. American Journal of Public Health and the Nations Health: August 1947, Vol. 37, No. 8, pp. 1013-1016.
doi: 10.2105/AJPH.37.8.1013

In 1947, Francis, Salk and Quilligan reported on the outcome of a large influenza vaccine trial undertaken at The University of Maryland.

Francis, Salk and Quilligan found no significant difference in the rate of influenza infection between vaccinated  and unvaccinated individuals . They inferred that antigenic deviation between the vaccine virus and the circulating seasonal influenza virus was likely responsible for the null results. [PDF]

From 1949–1951, articles including Salk as an author assessed the importance of antigenic traits in influenza vaccination:

In 1949, Salk was elected APHA Fellow. Starting in 1953, he began publishing articles in the American Journal of Public Health on poliomyelitis vaccination.

Salk’s 1953 article, “Principles of Immunization as Applied to
Poliomyelitis and Influenza,” discussed principles of live and inactivated vaccines for poliomyelitis, drawing on his experiences developing the influenza vaccine.

Subsequently, Salk and his colleagues published:

Jonas E. Salk.  Poliomyelitis Vaccine in the Fall of 1955. American Journal of Public Health and the Nations Health: January 1956, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 1-14. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.46.1.1
Jonas E. Salk. Poliomyelitis Vaccine in the Fall of 1955. American Journal of Public Health and the Nations Health: January 1956, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 1-14. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.46.1.1

This series of articles, all published in APHA’s house journal, provide an extraordinary historical overview of the development, testing and deployment of the Salk vaccine, including two articles summarizing the results of the first two years of polio vaccination.

Jonas Salk would be honored and pleased to receive today’s Executive Director Citation, which is the culmination of a long collaboration between Salk and the American Public Health Association.

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