Film: 8258

Medicine | 1950 | Sound | B/W


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The impact of Polio and the development an effective vaccine in Pittsburgh in the 1950's.

Small glass bottle labeled 'Poliomyletis vaccine for clinical trial (human)', it rotates with a curtain background. Head and torso of small child whose eyes are closed and seems slightly distressed, a hand strokes his forehead. Young female doctor in a face mask. Two masked nurses attend a child on a bed. Child's head pokes out from an Iron Lung looks at us as a nurses washes their face. Baby is being checked, Nurse manipulates a baby's limbs. Young boy lies on an examination bed holds out his arm a nurse stands behind him. A close up of his bent fingers, a nurse holds his hand. A child attached to a drip stand is lying on a bed in a dark room a nurse sits by the bed, the nurse wipes the child's mouth, the child also has a naso-gastric tube inserted down its nose. A shot of a large three floored building with 1916 inserted in the middle of the screen. Happy children are playing, boys are pushing hand made scooters. A group of girls are playing hop scotch. Other girls are skipping. A close up the girls feet skipping. The skipping rope falls to the ground. Part of the chalk lines of the hop scotch fill the screen. An abandon scooter lies against a brick wall.

A small child lies in bed a cloth is wiped over its forehead, the cloth is removed and a doctor places an ice pack on its head, the doctor listens to the child's chest, a nurse stands by the bed. A notice warning the general public not to enter the house is hammered into a wall, 'Infantile Paralysis, (poliomyelitis)'. A shot of the side of a large empty building. The front door of a building with a statue of a lion another warning notice can be seen. A woman is filling a suitcase with clothes, another adult is filling a large bag. Adult hand is locking a large chest. A family are purchasing train tickets from a Railway ticket office, other people are pushing to be served. A hand is clipping train tickets. Another Ticket Collector clipping tickets, lots of people in the queue. A street sign states 'New Yorkers, keep out, we sympathize but we have children, by order Chief Police'. A young boy with a crutch is slowly and stiffly walking on a pavement. A shot of clouds , a dark mass starts to engulf the screen, as it gets bigger it takes the form of the boy with the crutch. This shadow moves along a pavement. Two boys messing about in a rowing boat, the shadow of the boy is superimposed in the middle of the screen.

A cart horse is tethered to a farm building a young boy is standing near, the menacing shadow appears, it moves slowly towards the boy, the boy clutches his chest and looks very distressed. A chauffeur opens a car door, a man approaches the car, he stops and suddenly he appears to be ill, he rubs his head and neck, again the shadow appears and comes towards the man who is unwell, the narrator tells us that 'no-one is safe'. A mother and daughter appear at a front door, the girls starts to walk down the steps, she sits and starts rubbing her eyes and forehead. A vehicle moves down a lane, small bungalows can be seen, as the vehicle travels a white gas is seen coming from the back fumigating the area. A group of men clean a lane of garden waste and household items, these are placed on a lorry and taken to a fire for burning. Technicians are working in a laboratory. A patient lies in an Iron Lung, a nurse checks the equipment while a doctor talks to the patient, the shot moves round to the end of the Iron Lung and the bellows can be seen helping the patient to breath. A woman uses a mangle squeezes hot water from some material, the hot material is then placed on a boy's leg by a nurse, a man places a large metal frame over the boys legs.

A young teenager is lowered on a hoist by two nurses into a large metal tank filled with water (hydro therapy). Another teenager is hosed down with water by a nurse, he appears to be enjoying the process. A nurse stands by an examination coach, she is using a piece of medical equipment to check the patients nerve reactions, as she places the probe on the patient's arm his fingers twitch. A Doctor sits looking through a microscope, he views the slide. Two female technicians are working in a laboratory, further slides are checked. The front page of a newspaper fills the screen, the headline states 'Three more polio cases reported, total hits 46, Infant daughter here dies today for the ninth fatality', further shots of other newspapers all reporting the grim situation. A pair of closed metal gates come into view, notices can be seen, a close up of the sign reads 'closed' in large letters. A large marina is filled with boats and yachts, no people can been seen. A bridge over a large river, swan are busy preening, again no people can be seen. A close up hands locking a door. A shop is filled with Christmas decorations, a man opens up a sign it reads 'Christmas Parade Postponed'. A car travels down a road, two policemen stop it they speak to the driver, The driver turns the car around, a sad child's face is looking out the passengers window. Men are unloading an airplane, large Iron Lungs are loaded onto a vehicle.

A poorly looking patient lying in an Iron Lung has their mouth swabbed. In the laboratory a technician infects a cage of mice. A young boys face is seen, hands are checking his head and neck, a Doctor then check the boys legs. A machine is seen, hands are holding down the lid, the machine stops and hot packs are removed from it, the narrator tells us that this is one of the new advances. A small respirator has a very young child in it, two nurses are standing near by checking the machine, the baby is very upset. A hospital ward is filled with rocking beds, this we are told is another new invention, at the end of the ward a patient is lying in a iron lung looking at the camera through a mirror. A child aged about 6 is lying on a bed frame in a tank of water, water is flowing across the bed, the child seems to be enjoying the experience. A scene of a busy intersection. A sign with the words 'polio serum clinic', the narrator talks about a break through in the treatment to prevent the spread of the disease. A mother and child enters a school, a sign indicating it is a 'Polio Serum Clinic'. A queue of people with children are walking into the clinic. Information sheets are handed out, giving details of the clinical trial the children are signing up to. The children are weighed. A nurse prepares a swab and takes it to the little girl, her mother holds her hand. The results of the trial are recorded by clerks, the overall results show that it is a success reducing the paralysis but for only least 6 weeks. A close up of a box of injections, one is removed, the syringe is checked and a child is injected, other children are injected, but afterwards the children are offered a lollipop. Cold medical storage area, a technician check the equipment he is wearing a warm coat and gloves. The process of making the vaccine is described, shots of demi johns, racks of test tubes can be seen, all under strict sterile conditions. A family gets out of a car, its sunny and the group look very happy. The narrator tells us that it’s the summer of 1953, family groups enter a courtyard. A Nurse hands them labels which are pinned onto the child's back, a small boy is lying on a coach, a man is holding the child still, a doctor prepares an injection, the vaccine is injected into the boy's bottom, it hurts and the boy is very upset, he cheers up when his is offered a lollipop.

A sign indicates 'Infectious Disease Research, Dr J F Enders, Dr T H Weller' Dr Enders is sitting at his desk and gets up to talk to a technicians to discuss a sample, two doctors are smoking pipes while the technician is working, The Pittsburgh team have found a safe vaccine, a nation wide vaccination programme has started. A small boy is inoculated and smiles at the camera, other children going through the process all smile. Dr Salk talks directly to the camera about the successful research and that no side effects have been found and further improvements will be made in the future. A close up of the glass bottle we saw at the beginning of the film is shown rotating slowly, the narrator says that the hopes and prayers are centered on this bottle.

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