I was a Polio Pioneer, which means I was one of 1.8 million children who participated in the first mass Polio vaccine trial in 1954. Each of us was was given the vaccine, a button and card like those shown above, and a piece of candy. The trial was actually a double blind study in which half the children were given the vaccine and half were given a look-alike placebo, but all were Polio Pioneers.
I was in the 2nd grade and I felt very brave as I waited in line for my turn to receive the shot. We all knew about swimming pools being closed in the summer and avoiding crowds due to fear of the Polio epidemic. We had all seen dreadful pictures of kids living in iron lungs. Hysteria is not too strong a word to describe the fear of the disease.