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Health History. 2009;11(2):42-61.

'An American tragedy'. the Cutter incident and its implications for the Salk polio vaccine in New Zealand 1955-1960.

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University of Auckland, New Zealand.


During the United States polio immunisation campaign in 1955 a number of children immunised with Cutter Laboratories vaccine were stricken with the disease, halting the programme. This event, the Cutter Incident, had major repercussions in the United States but also in many other countries such as New Zealand, Britain, and Australia. In New Zealand scarcity of vaccine left children exposed to the 1955-6 epidemic and the Department of Health's planned immunisation campaign at the mercy of erratic supply. This paper examines how the consequences of the Cutter Incident shaped the New Zealand polio immunisation programme. The New Zealand experiences with the polio vaccine are set in an international context in order to give an appreciable understanding of the events that occurred.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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