Gutsy '62 Campaign to Wipe Out Polio Vaccinated Nearly a Million Dallas Residents

Theda Plunkett was 92 years old, waiting in line for a sugar cube.Standing beside her in the line snaking out of Lakewood Elementary School was her great-great-grandson, John, 4 years old. He was waiting for his sugar cube, too.It was Sunday, July 29, 1962, D-Day in Dallas for the fight against the scourge of polio. For the first half of the 20th century, the disease had crippled and killed Americans by the tens of thousands, falling hardest on children. Now, there was an answer, the Sabin vaccine — two pink drops dribbled atop those sugar cubes.Health officials knew the vaccine was effective. The problem was distribution — getting every man, woman and child the necessary dose.They decided to make a push to vaccinate as many people as possible in one sweeping effort — throwing open the doors of area schools and calling the people in at once.So it was that last Sunday in July, Theda and John queued up with hundreds of thousands of others to get a thimble-size paper cup that held a lump of sugar laced with the vaccine. As temperatures soared into the mid-90s, a steady stream of young and old, rich and poor, families of every race and ethnicity joined the lines.  Continue reading...

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