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Dr. Peter Salk reflects on his father's legacy on vaccines

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Dr. Peter Salk joined The National Desk anchor Jan Jeffcoat to discuss the COVID vaccine. (SBG)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - Dr. Peter Salk, son of Dr. Jonas Salk, the creator of the polio vaccine, remembers receiving one of the first doses of the polio vaccine when he was just 9 years old.

“When my father was just on the point of wanting to expand out and go into schools, it was at that moment that he said now is the time to inoculate my family,” said Dr. Salk to The National Desk's Jan Jeffcoat. “I think for two reasons: One to demonstrate his own confidence in this experimental vaccine, and the other was, this looks good, let's get our family immunized.”

His memory of that moment, decades later, is incredibly vivid.

“We were in the kitchen in our home and I stood there bravely waiting to get an injection and the injection happened and I didn’t feel it. It was a miracle, that doesn’t usually happen,” said Dr. Salk. “I can still see myself standing there at the kitchen table and the light coming in the window.”

It took Dr. Jonas Salk seven years to create a polio vaccine.

“The technology was still so complex in terms of getting things from start to finish. And what’s happened over the decades after that is that we’ve become so skilled in knowing how to manipulate viruses,” said Dr. Peter Salk.

Dr. Salk said he was nervous about how quickly COVID-19 vaccines were created - but has since felt confident about the vaccination rollout.

“One thing that I think was done really well in this country was the Operation Warp Speed getting things underway so quickly. I think that turned out to be very beneficial,” said Dr. Salk. “Within a year of the viral genome having been sequenced, less than a year, we’ve got this couple of vaccines that are already out going into people’s arms. This is just a remarkable accomplishment.”

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