It was a Saturday night in Albion, a small city just east of Battle Creek, Michigan, and teenagers lined up for a dance at the school gym.
The price of admission? A bared arm.
The year was 1958, and this was no ordinary Saturday night social outing: Billed as a “Salk Hop,” it was only open to young people willing to receive a jab of the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk, or show proof of vaccination.
The dance was part of a five-year war on polio vaccine hesitancy, a campaign that brought together the scientific know-how of public health experts with the burgeoning energy, creativity, and even sexuality of a powerful new presence in American society—teenagers.
Poliomyelitis, an infectious, virus-induced