Miracle Workers

More than a million children participated in the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine trials of 1954, the largest public health experiment in American History

On April 26, 1954, six-year-old Randy Kerr stood first in line at his elementary school gymnasium in McLean, Virginia, sporting a crew cut and a smile. With assembly-line precision, a nurse rolled up his left sleeve, a doctor administered the injection, a clerk recorded the details, and the next child stepped into place. “I could hardly feel it,” boasted Kerr, America’s first polio pioneer. “It hurt less than a penicillin shot.” Read more »