Segments in this Video

Introduction: Shot Felt 'Round the World (01:35)


See footage of healthy children. The average human lifespan has increased by 30 years over the last century. Pertussis, German measles, diphtheria, and other conditions all had much higher death tolls before vaccines were developed. Before Dr. Jonas Salk found a cure, no disease was as feared as much as polio.

Mysterious Summer Plague (04:12)

The Salk vaccine was introduced in the spring of 1955; just three years earlier, 57,900 cases of paralytic polio were reported in the United States. It was a “summer plague” that spread silently, killing and incapacitated thousands of children each year. Its cause was unknown, and many myths circulated regarding how it spread.

Transmission and Symptoms (04:08)

The poliovirus was transmitted from person to person, working its way into the nervous system where it damaged anterior horn cells, which are essential to muscular control. Victims would experience fever, difficulty breathing, paralysis and other symptoms as their conditions deteriorated. Many needed iron lungs to breathe properly.

America Throws in Its Dimes (03:19)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt caught the disease in 1921 at the age of 39. In 1939, he founded the March of Dimes, a voluntary organization that asked Americans to donate their pocket change towards the goal of eradicating polio and other childhood diseases. It was a cause célèbre for Lucille Ball, Mickey Rooney and others.

Jonas Salk (14:32)

Salk accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh in 1947 and received a grant to study polio. He believed he could trick the body into creating antibodies with an inactivated vaccine instead of using a live virus that put recipients at risk.

D.T. Watson Home for Crippled Children (03:46)

Salk tested potential vaccines on patients at the DT Watson Home for Crippled Children in 1952. There he proved he could induce an immune response with an inactivated virus vaccine. Salk made a point of testing the vaccine on himself and his own children.

Scale-up and Pittsburgh Trials (10:54)

Percival Bazeley helped Salk’s team mass produce the vaccine. Pittsburgh parents were quick to volunteer their children for trials, and thousands were immunized in 1954. Salk had to defend his work against claims made by Walter Winchell, a yellow journalist who spread fear that the vaccine caused the disease it was meant to cure.

Nationwide Trials Begin (01:21)

Nationwide trials of the polo vaccine began in April 1954; 1.8 million children participated, making it the largest field trial of a vaccine in history. Salk was initially reluctant to use a control group, feeling that it was morally reprehensible to knowingly withhold the vaccine from some children.

Shot Felt 'Round the World (06:12)

Results of the field trials were tabulated at the University of Michigan and released on April 12, 1955. The vaccine was found to be 80 to 90 percent effective against paralytic poliomyelitis. There was mass celebration, as if a war had ended, and Salk was recognized as a national hero.

"Would You Patent the Sun?" (03:37)

Salk considered the polio vaccine a gift to the people. The American people had rallied together, determined to defeat a disease. The World Health Organization declared the U.S. to be free of polio in 1994, but the disease remains active elsewhere in the world.

Credits: The Shot Felt 'Round the World (03:03)

Credits: The Shot Felt 'Round the World

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

The Shot Felt 'Round The World

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This documentary tells the story of Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed the vaccine that conquered polio, the most feared disease of the 20th century. A horror movie could not be more dramatic; polio is a mysterious disease that preys on children, killing them or leaving them crippled. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a victim of polio, inspires the public to send in their dimes to fund research, some of the money goes to an ambitious young scientist, who changes the course of history. Featuring interviews with world renowned experts, as well as people affected by the disease, this documentary charts the story of the methods and people involved in developing this critical vaccine.

Length: 57 minutes

Item#: BVL183579

ISBN: 978-1-64481-856-5

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Director Tjardus Greidanus's exhaustive, compelling documentary is an important document for our time.”– AARP The Magazine

“So effective in conveying the human cost of the virus and the desperate urgency to find a cure that it plays like an edge of the seat thriller."– Jed Dannenbaum, co-author of Creative Filmmaking from the Inside Out

“Infused with so much excitement, optimism and moral courage that it is infectious!”– Lynne Littman, Oscar-winning director and Member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors

"[The filmmakers have done a] wonderful job.”– Dr Paul A. Offitt, co-author of Vaccines

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.