Salk Polio Vaccine, MEF-1 Strain

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Jonas Salk first tested his polio vaccine on humans in July 1952 when he inoculated thirty children at the D. T. Watson Home for Crippled Children near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These children had already had polio, so Salk's test was designed to prove that his vaccine would create a higher level of immunity than a natural infection. Salk also tested his vaccine on residents of the Polk State Home and on himself and members of his laboratory staff.
This vial contains residue of polio vaccine from these first tests. The polio virus exists in hundreds of different strains, all of which fall into three major types. A complete vaccine must contain a strain from each of these three types. However, the children at the Watson Home received only one type of vaccine matching the strain of their original polio infection. This vial is labeled for the MEF-1 strain (Type II).
Currently not on view
date made
Salk, Jonas E.
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
Physical Description
vaccine residue, polio virus (overall, drug ingredient)
glass (overall, container material)
overall: 6.5 cm x 2.8 cm; 2 9/16 in x 1 1/8 in
overall: 2 3/8 in x 1 1/8 in; x 6.0325 cm x 2.8575 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
National Treasures exhibit
Health & Medicine
The Antibody Initiative
Antibody Initiative: Polio
Data Source
National Museum of American History