Racial Health Disparities Didn’t Start With Covid: The Overlooked History of Polio

March 16, 2021
Producer: Karen M. Sughrue
Editor: Heru Muharrar

Released: March 16, 2021

Vaccines began to bring an end to polio in 1955, but – as with the Covid vaccine today – Black communities were slower to receive them.

The coronavirus pandemic has been twice as deadly for Black Americans than whites, and now Black and Hispanic Americans are lagging behind whites in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

But the little-known history of polio shows that racial and health disparities are not new. “One of the things that the history of polio tells us is that our racial disparities, health disparities were not invented in the past 10 years, and that very often, they have been deliberately ignored,” Naomi Rogers, a medical historian at Yale, told Retro Report.

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