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John Salamone and the Oral Polio Vaccine

schedule1989sWe don’t use the oral polio vaccine in the United States anymore because of the risk of vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP).

We were still using it though in 1990 when John Salamone’s son, David was getting his vaccines.

Following the 1989 childhood immunization schedule, David Salamone would have gotten his first dose of OPV, together with a DTP shot, at age two months.

David’s parents were unaware that VAPP could occur in about 1 in every 1.27 million children receiving their first dose of OPV.

When David was immunized in 1990, we simply had no idea that this would happen or that we had choices in the type of polio vaccine he could receive. Obviously, if we could have that fateful day back we would have chosen a safer, just as effective, injectable vaccine.

Was the injectable polio vaccine (IPV) just as effective in 1990 in the United States?

Experts had actually been debating that for years, starting with a 1977 IOM report on the Evaluation of Poliomyelitis Vaccines to a 1988 report that recommending considering a move to a IPV/OPV regimen.

The switch finally came in 2000.

And John Salamone had a lot to do with that.

Paul Offit, MD has said that “He had everything to do, frankly, with our move in 1998 from a vaccine schedule that included the oral polio vaccine to one that didn’t.”

As president of the advocacy group Informed Parents Against Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Polio, he was one of the first pro-safe vaccine parents. The group changed their name to Vaccine Associated Polio Society (VAPS) in 2002.

Note that he didn’t form a group against vaccines or lobby against all vaccines, he instead pushed for a switch to a safer vaccine that was already available and his advocacy group was formed “to provide a continuum of care, establish a network of support, and coordinate a central resource point for vaccine-associated polio survivors and their families.”

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