Albert Sabin and the Coalition to Eliminate Polio From the Americas

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Albert B. Sabin, MD, developer of the oral polio vaccine, was also a major proponent of its use in annual vaccination campaigns aimed at the elimination of polio. Sabin argued that administering his vaccine simultaneously to every child in a country would break polio's chains of transmission. Although he was already promoting mass vaccination by the 1960s, Sabin's efforts expanded considerably when he became an adviser to groups fighting polio in the Americas in the 1980s. Sabin's experiences provide a window into both the formation of the coalition that eliminated poliomyelitis from the Western Hemisphere and what can happen when biomedical researchers become public health policy advisers. Although the polio elimination coalition succeeded in part because member groups often accommodated each other's priorities, Sabin was often limited by his indifference to the interests of those he was advising and to the shortcomings of his vaccine.

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