Polio advice from Action Comics, 1954

Scott Edelman sez, "In 1954, a year before to the Salk vaccine was revealed to the world, DC Comics was publishing ads advising kids how not to catch polio., as in this one from Action #196 (which would have gone on sale a couple of months earlier than its September 1954 cover date). The words of wisdom included 'keep clean' and 'don't get fatigued.' They might as well have said, don't be a kid!"

DC Comics wants you to read Nutsy Squirrel … and take these precautions against polio (Thanks, Scott!)


  1. If it was a whole year before the vaccine was revealed to the public, how does DC know about it? I’m referring to the little blurb under a vaccine. 

    1. What was revealed to the public in 1955 wasn’t the testing of the vaccine, but rather its success. Evidently, starting in 1954, “Some 1.8 million children, known as Polio Pioneers, in grades one, two and three in 44 states from Maine to California eventually took part in the three-inoculation sequence over the next year.” So DC Comics would have known that. http://web.archive.org/web/20080919033102/http://www.marchofdimes.com/aboutus/10651_11681.asp

  2. I’m old enough to remember being told “Don’t go near that pond, it’s got polio in it” I’m also old enough to remember a booster shot literally made your upper arm feel broken for a day or two. Every small town had a least a couple of kids going around in braces because of paralysis caused by polio. Some died. To many it was a true miracle when the threat was removed through innoculation.

    And yes, there were some religions that were against it, sort of God’s will that you were born of idiots, tough luck.

    1. We had children who had had polio in my school system, one in a wheelchair. There were more off in institutions somewhere, hooked up to iron lungs. Most people can’t imagine how bad it was. Every time your child got sick, you had to wonder. Still better than smallpox, though.

  3. Yes it seemed like they were saying “Don’t be a kid!” but it was important to be careful. I had two friends from unvaccinated populations, one Native American and one Taiwanese, who suffered the ravages of the disease. It was very hard on them.

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