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February 27, 2021

Drive-Thru Polio Clinic in the Early 1960s

In the early 1960s, medicine borrowed a page from the drive-thru window’s concept of fast, “don’t-even-need-to-leave-your-car” convenience in a radical effort to eradicate polio – a crippling disease that sicken tens of thousands of Americans in the early 20th century.

Most people infected with the polio virus had no symptoms; however, for the less than 1% who developed paralysis it resulted in permanent disability and even death.

Henry Ford Hospital was one of many hospital across the nation to host a drive-thru polio vaccination program in the 1960s. The Oral Polio Vaccine Program was directed by Dr. Edward L. Quinn, founder of the hospital’s division of Infectious Diseases.

During the three-hour event on June 24, 1962, 438 cars made their way through the hospital’s parking garage. In all, 1,595 doses of the Sabin Oral Vaccine were administered.




(Photo by Bill Bridges)




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