Although a documentary on the fight against polio is to debut nationally on public television stations the week of April 26, the Clovis and Portales area will get a sneak preview, according to Barry Smith with Shepley Winings Public Relations Inc.
April is the 50th anniversary of the first national testing of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine in 1954, he said.
“We are working together with the March of Dimes and the various national Post-Polio survivor groups to call attention to this memorable anniversary,” Smith said.
“A Fight to the Finish: Stories of Polio” will air at 4 p.m. today on KENW-TV, Channel 3 in Portales and Channel 51 in Clovis.
The documentary recounts the seldom-remembered polio epidemic in the United States that began with the first outbreak in 1916 and terrorized the nation for decades, he said. Through touching personal accounts from polio survivors and their families, as well as from doctors and scientists, it chronicles the nation’s united front against the disease and the successful race to find a cure.
It includes photos, film footage and archivalk interviews with Dr. Albert Sabin and Dr. Jonas Salk, as well as first-hand accounts from polio survivors and their families.
“Nearly 2 million school children volunteered for field trials — the largest peace-time mobilization of volunteers in U.S. history. Statistics from the field trials showed that the Salk vaccine was 80-90 percent effective in preventing polio — and over the next four years, 450 million doses of the vaccine were administered and it became a standard fixture among childhood immunizations,” Smith said.
A success on the independent circuit, he said, the film has screened at some 20 film festivals, including the USA Film Festival/Dallas, the Boston Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, The Denver International Film Festival and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. “A Fight to the Finish: Stories of Polio” received awards at the Santa Monica Film Festival, Houston Film Festival and the Deep Ellum Film Festival.