It was 1952, and polio gripped the world in fear. There was no known cause, no cure and no help in sight for parents desperate to protect their children. Across the ocean, eager to beat the potentially fatal condition, polio-afflicted President Roosevelt inspired the American public to send in their dimes to fund research. In just a few years Joseph Salk, an ambitious 33-year-old scientist working from his basement lab in Pittsburgh, would bring infantile paralysis to its knees and change the course of medical history. Bill Gates is interviewed along with a number of world-renowned experts and survivors to tell the extraordinary story of how Dr Salk and the legendary 'march of dimes' came together to help conquer polio.
In 2010, FRONTLINE reported on the warnings of doctors and public health experts that growing skepticism about vaccines could enable the return of preventable diseases once thought to be eliminated. Now, in 2015, those warnings appear to be coming true, with measles, mumps, and whooping cough all making a comeback. Building on years of research, this updated documentary explores both the roots of the vaccine debate, and the latest chapter in the heated controversy: Are parents who choose not to vaccinate their children putting the health of our nation at risk? From the unfolding legislative battle over personal belief exemptions and whether children should be allowed to attend public schools if they are not vaccinated, to the growth of the vaccine-skeptic movement, to the struggles of health care providers trying to reassure parents that vaccines are safe, to the science at the heart of it all, The Vaccine War is a compelling and timely report on an issue that remains highly emotional and deeply divisive.