McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Mon, 07/15/2024 - 16:07

Gradual reopening continues on downtown campus. See Campus Public Safety website for details.

La réouverture graduelle du campus du centre-ville se poursuit. Complément d'information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention.

Polio and Vaccination

Canadian stamp polio

Date of issue: September 2, 2005
Printer: Canadian Bank Note Company
Design: Debbie Adams


Poliomyelitis is caused by a virus that primarily affects the oropharynx and intestinal tract. In a small number of people, it spreads from these sites to the spinal cord, where it destroys motor neurons and results in paralysis. In Canada, the disease reached an epidemic proportion in the 1950s, with approximately 9000 cases and 500 deaths in 1953.

Scientists and managers at the University of Toronto’s Connaught Medical Research laboratories played an important role in the development of a vaccine to stop this and other polio epidemics. Their first contribution was the development of a medium for mass-producing the virus. This was supplied to Dr. Jonas Salk, who used it to create an inactivated viral vaccine in 1952. Following clinical trials, both Canada and the U.S. licensed it for clinical use in 1955. However, the entire U.S. vaccination program was soon halted after 79 children who had received the U.S. manufactured vaccine contracted polio. Connaught’s vaccine remained unassociated with this complication and the Canadian immunization effort continued successfully, helping to renew confidence in the vaccine.

The Stamp

The stamp was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of Canada’s program of universal polio vaccination. It shows images of six “colorful” children jumping and playing, free of the realistic black and white leg braces in the foreground. The first-day cover shows the children in outline with the original Connaught Company vaccine vial and box.

First-day cover polio

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