Several years ago, I attended the 40th anniversary of the Sabin polio vaccine and the contributions of Dr. Albert S. Sabin at the University Of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Children’s Hospital. As the representative of my employer at the time, Pfizer, I was there to present a proclamation to Mrs. Sabin and hospital staff members
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center’s mission statement is to “enhance and improve the quality of health for people everywhere by discovering, teaching and applying knowledge related to the health sciences.” This mission is accomplished “by providing high-quality educational programs, completing excellent research to improve health tomorrow, and applying knowledge today by providing the highest quality patient-centered care possible.” The mission statement is dedicated to humanity so as to develop and provide innovative health care products that lead to healthier and more productive lives. This was obviously demonstrated by Dr. Sabin’s work in developing the Sabin polio vaccine.
Dr. Sabin’s work is a constant reminder that through a committed and focused effort, and teamwork, great work can be accomplished. As you know, in the 1950’s polio was the most feared childhood disease, it spread during hot summer months when children crowded around public swimming pools.
Pfizer was also committed to “achieve and sustain our place as the world’s premier research-based health care company.” With that as the mantra, the development of a polio vaccine became imperative and Pfizer played a key role in producing and distributing Dr. Jonas Salk’s killed-virus immunization. Pfizer’s facility in Sandwich, England, started bulk production in 1958. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, Dr. Albert Sabin, assisted by a grant, had formulated his own “live-virus” polio vaccine. The Type I Sabin Oral vaccine was developed. The drug was a huge success; children quickly discovered that eating vaccine-laden sugar cubes was far more pleasant than under going injections.
Working with local health services, company representatives fanned out across America, organizing mass-immunization programs to administer Type I of the Sabin Oral vaccine. This effort, promoted as S.O.S. – Sabin Oral Sundays – brought doctors, nurses, pharmacists, parents and civic groups together to immunize more than 50 million men, women and children in a mighty effort to eradicate this dreaded disease. By enlisting the support of entire communities, from pharmacist to physician and from Boy Scout to banker to partner with Dr. Sabin and the University of Cincinnati, the eradication of polio was well within site.
Working together as team members, miracles happen.