Definition of Salk vaccine

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Salk vaccine: Vaccine against poliomyelitis named for Dr. Jonas Salk who developed and introduced it in 1955. It was the first type of polio vaccine to become available. It was made by cultivating three strains of the virus separately in monkey tissue. The virus was separated from the tissue, stored for a week, and killed with formaldehyde. This killed-virus vaccine was given by injection and required 4 "shots." The oral form of the vaccine, subsequently developed by Dr. Albert Sabin, is in standard use today since it is easier to administer and is more effective than the Salk vaccine. The Salk vaccine is now exclusively of historic interest.

The American physician and virologist Jonas Salk (1914-1995) did research on the influenza virus at the University of Michigan and on poliovirus at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1963 he became the first director of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies at the University of California, San Diego.


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