Anderson, Assistant U. S. Surgeon General, replied to a query from Fogarty's constituent, a physician who wanted to know
why doctors in private practice found it almost impossible to get the Salk polio vaccine for their patients, even though public
health clinics seemed to have plenty. This correspondence shows some of the difficulties involved in producing and distributing
polio vaccine nationwide during the first few years it was available.
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1957-06-03 (June 3, 1957)
Anderson, Otis L.
United States. Public Health Service. Office of the Surgeon General
Fogarty, John E.
Original Repository: Phillips Memorial Library, Special and Archival Collections at Providence College
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Redefining the Federal Role in Public Health, Medical Research, and Education, 1949-1960
Public Health Service Progress Report on the Poliomyelitis Vaccination Program (January 24, 1956)
Letter from Otis L. Anderson to John E. Fogarty (July 15, 1957)
Letter from Otis L. Anderson to John E. Fogarty (July 18, 1957)
The Salk Vaccine Problem (May 3, 1955)
Letter from Leroy Burney to E. H. Beesley (April 9, 1957)
Letter from John T. Barrett to John E. Fogarty (May 28, 1957)
Box Number: 39
Folder Number: 562
June 3, 1957
Dear Dr. Fogarty:
This is in reply to your letter of May 29, 1957, addressed to Mr. Sam A. Kimble
concerning the current shortage of commercial poliomyelitis vaccine in Rhode
An increase in public demand for poliomyelitis vaccine began in February of this
year nearly simultaneously in all parts of the country. This sharp and sudden
increase rapidly exhausted back stocks and continues to utilize current vaccine
production at a high rate. This shortage appears to be relatively uniform
throughout the country and is affecting equally both private physicians and public
On March 30, 1957, representatives of the American Medical Association, the
Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, and the National Foundation
for Infantile Paralysis met with Public Health Service representatives to review
the poliomyelitis vaccination program. As a result of this meeting a series of
recommendations were made to the manufacturers of poliomyelitis vaccine. In the
copy attached to this letter, please note the second recommendation which reads:
"The group recommend that commercial vaccine supplies be maintained those
States where vaccine is being sold to public agencies in order to assure that vaccination can be provided though both public
and private channels rather than
only through public clinics."
The compliance of the manufacturers with this and the other recommendations has
been excellent. The ratio of all vaccine shipped to public agencies and private
physicians has remained virtually stable during the period of shortage. In Rhode
Island the level of vaccine shipped to public agencies from July 1955 to March 15,
1957, was 54.3 percent. During the period March 15 to May 17, 1957, this ratio has
dropped slightly to 52.4 percent.
Vaccine production has been accelerated as much as is compatible with the
paramount requirement of producing a safe and potent vaccine. It is perhaps fair
to refer to the present situation as one of extremely high demand, rather than of
shortage of shipment. Up to May 17 of this year a total of 58 million doses of
poliomyelitis vaccine had been shipped in contrast to 77 million doses during the
entire year of 1956. From information available to us, it would not appear that
the demand for poliomyelitis vaccine will decrease for at least two months and
possibly not until the end of the year.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to write.