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SALK VACCINE REMEMBERED
BY POLIO SURVIVORS AT THE WILSON HOME

On a sparkling Spring day, November 2nd 2006, the 50th anniversary of the Salk Polio Vaccine was celebrated at the beautiful Wilson Home in Takapuna. Ninety polio survivors, spouses and family gathered to give thanks at a chapel service for the anniversary of this vaccine .... this historic vaccine which was discovered too late to benefit any of them.

Almost forgotten by most New Zealanders, the now aging adults got polio as children before the vaccine arrived here in 1956. These survivors are still sprinkled thoughout society and carry within them the memories and the physical ravages of polio.

Yet in a strange irony they enjoyed a day of story-telling and reminiscing about their struggles in the very home where they had been rehabilitated so long ago.

The Wilson Home for babies and children with disabilities was founded in 1937 because of the polio epidemics. This Home is a white stately mansion situated high on the cliffs of St Leonard's beach, surrounded by tall mature trees and gorgeous gardens. The wide verandas were ideal for laying out those with infantile paralysis to benefit from the sun and sea breezes. During the 1940's, 1950's, and into the early 1960's, the Wilson Home was indeed a caring home for so many with polio. Some lived there for several months and some for a number of years as their bodies recovered enough to enter school and society.

As the mass immunisation campaigns against polio circulated throughout the schools and around the country, polio cases dropped off dramatically, and NZ was declared polio free in 2000.

The memories of the fearful epidemics have all but faded from the nation's psyche, but not from thousands of survivors who are still living with the after effects of polio.


  • To hear Bev Barnes' talk at the Chapel Service, click here
  • To hear Doreen Chandler's comments, click here
  • A DVD of the day covers the Chapel Service, the Story time, and a brief look around the grounds, as well as a 7 minute overview. To buy a DVD for NZ$15 (NZ Postage included, other countries extra) click here
  • To watch the 7 min overview video, click here
Wilson Home 1 Wilson Home 3
Wilson Home 2 Edith at Wilson Home
Polio 50 years on - Salk Vaccine remembered















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