M965.199.6054 | Too Bad We Can't Have Shots for This, Too
Too Bad We Can't Have Shots for This, Too
About 1959, 20th century
Ink and graphite on paper
36.7 x 29.3 cm
Gift of Mr. John Collins - The Gazette
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , social (690)
Keys to History
Many contagious diseases were brought under control during the 20th century thanks to vaccination, the scientific principles of which had been established by French chemist Louis Pasteur at the end of the 19th century. One such disease was poliomyelitis, which attacks the nervous system and can lead to paralysis and death. In the first half of the 20th century, hundreds of Canadian children, particularly in the five-to-ten year age group, contracted polio. Vaccines developed in the United States in the 1950s were a major factor in reducing the incidence of this disease. Prevention and immunization were two components of a comprehensive strategy that, in one hundred years, resulted in cutting Quebec's infant death rate from 250 per 1,000 to 4.8 per 1,000.
This cartoon makes a link between polio, which had affected many people in Quebec but had been brought under control in the 1950s thanks to vaccination campaigns, and car accidents, which were still causing many deaths.
Around 1930, contagious diseases such as diphtheria, scarlet fever and whooping cough were still killing young people on a regular basis despite the progress made by medical science. Today, children in poor countries are still at risk of contracting these diseases.
It was chiefly between 1930 and 1970 that Western countries, including Canada, conducted large-scale vaccination campaigns against childhood diseases.
In the 1950s, American physician and epidemiologist Jonas Salk (1914-95) developed an inactivated vaccine against polio. At virtually the same time, the U.S. virologist of Polish origin Albert Sabin (1906-93) devised a live, oral vaccine in which the infectious part of the virus was attenuated.