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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111

Abstract

TUELLS, José. The battle in Madrid over poliomyelitis vaccines (1963): science, ideology and power in the first mass immunization campaign in Spain. Gac Sanit [online]. 2019, vol.33, n.5, pp.480-484.  Epub Dec 23, 2019. ISSN 0213-9111.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gaceta.2018.05.005.

Between 1958 and 1963, Spain witnessed the highest ever incidence of poliomyelitis (2000 cases and 200 deaths per year). Although Salk's inactivated vaccine had arrived in Spain in 1957, the government took no decisive action to administer it to the entire population at risk. Neither was Sabin's attenuated vaccine administered, available in Europe from 1960. While other countries adopted one or the other, in Spain rivalry arose over the two vaccines, with mixed results. The Salk vaccine was administered to a small percentage of the population at risk through the Compulsory Sickness Insurance scheme (Spanish initials: SOE), while at the same time a research team at the National School of Health led by Florencio Pérez Gallardo (1917-2006) carried out a model epidemiological study that demonstrated the superiority of the Sabin vaccine. In 1963, the SOE launched a national campaign with the Salk vaccine promoted by the paediatrician Juan Bosch Marín (1902-1995), a representative of the most conservative structure of the Franco regime. The dispute over which vaccine was best reached its peak in early 1963 at various scientific conferences in Madrid. Bosch Marín's group argued in favour of his campaign and the Salk vaccine, while Pérez Gallardo did the same for the oral vaccine, achieving a substantial impact by inviting Sabin himself to speak. By the end of the year, following a pilot study, the first mass oral vaccination campaign against polio was introduced in Spain.

Keywords : Vaccines; Poliomyelitis; Immunization campaigns; Juan Bosch Marín; Florencio Pérez Gallardo; Albert Sabin.

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