The History of Vaccines Blog

Trip to CHOP and Wistar Institute

Dr. Feemster (2nd from right) and the College's Teva Interns Yesterday History of Vaccines staff had the pleasure of accompanying the College’s Teva interns and that program's staff to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Our host was Kristen A. Feemster, MD, MPH, an infectious diseases physician at CHOP and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Among her many research interests, Dr. Feemster studies factors affecting administration and uptake of immunizations. The Teva Interns are Philadelphia high school students working here at the College on a three-week project looking at the unique health and social challenges facing Philadelphia youth. This week they are learning about sexually transmitted infections – their natural history and epidemiology – and will be producing videos on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. More

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Silk Keeps Vaccines Stable

Photo: Fiorenzo Omenetto/Tufts University esearchers at Tufts University have published their research on using silk to stabilize vaccines. When preservatives like thimerosal are not used, refrigeration is the only other way to preserve vaccines from the point of manufacture to the point of vaccination. Without preservatives or refrigeration, any bacterial contaminants could pose a risk to the health of those receiving the vaccine. Moreover, all vaccines are heat-sensitive to some degree, and loss of potency is a risk when vaccines are kept outside the optimal temperature. This new research is promising in that silk, a natural protein produced by some insects, is inert to the point that it is used to make hypoallergenic clothing and suture material to close wounds. It is also readily available. The research at Tufts is based on having the antigen -- the part of the vaccine that triggers the immune response -- embedded in silk produced by silkworms (the larval form of the silkmoth). The silk will then maintain the antigen regardless of the storage temperature. More

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Déjà vu for Polio Eradication Advocates?

Polio Survivors in Nigeria, USAID/Mohammed Jiya-Doko In 1988, the WHO predicted that polio would be eradicated by 2000. Today, in 2012, we impatiently watch as polio continues to infect and paralyze children. Why has polio survived even though international aid groups been working so hard to stop it?  One major recent development is mirrored in the past: distrust and boycott of the polio vaccine. More

Fourth of July: American Presidents and Infectious Diseases

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Happy Fourth of July! In honor of this historic holiday we’ve compiled a list showing how infectious diseases and vaccines have affected the lives of our most heralded leaders – the American presidents. These concise accounts are evidence that diseases can strike anyone, anywhere at any time, and even in the White House. George Washington (1789-97)     The first president of the United States witnessed more epidemics of infectious disease than any other, so much so that PBS NewsHour published a blog post entitled “The Nine Deadly Diseases That Plagued George Washington.”  In 1751, a 19-year-old Washington traveled to visit his half-brother who was sick with tuberculosis in Barbados. While visiting, George came down with smallpox but fully recovered despite a few scars. Unfortunately, his tubercular half-brother could not overcome his disease and passed away in 1752. In 1793, yellow fever hit Philadelphia in what is now regarded as one of the most notorious epidemics of the disease in history. Washington had to flee along with much of the city’s population to remain safely free of yellow fever More

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Polio and Swimming Pools: Historical Connections

Athena, Oregon, 1941. Russell Lee, photographer. Library of Congress When the New York Times announced that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio on September 16, 1921, fear swept the nation. Polio, a a relatively unknown illness at the time, had suddenly disabled  a wealthy and prominent politician on the cusp of his career, making it clear that any American, irrespective of social status, was potentially susceptible to the disease.  With the national spotlight focused on the issue, the search for a cure began, and the defeat of the dreaded illness became the most important health objective in America almost overnight. More

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Going on Vacation? Think about Travel Vaccines

Aedes aegypti, National Library of Medicine As summer heats up, families, vacationers, and honeymooners are rushing to travel clinics for their last-minute shots before embarking on their adventures. Here’s a quick guide to what you should keep in mind when getting any needed travel vaccines: Go Early – Vaccines require a certain amount of time to build up immunity in your body to protect against disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you make an appointment 4-6 weeks before your scheduled departure. Moreover, many vaccines such as the hepatitis B vaccine and typhoid fever vaccine require multiple doses that must be spaced out for maximum effectiveness. More

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Vaccination Reminder Systems

From CDC Have you ever forgotten to buy milk when you go to the grocery store? How about missing someone’s birthday? Because of the fast-paced world we live in, there are always going to be things that we forget to do. Some of them are more important than others. Bills need to be paid on time or we get fees charged to us. Applications need to be filed on time or we could miss out on an opportunity. Vaccines need to be given on time to offer the best chances of their providing immunity. More

Historia de las Vacunas: ¡Ahora en español!

Dr. Jaime Ferrán y su vacuna contra el cólera, NLM Nos complace informar a nuestros lectores que hemos añadido una nueva y significativa sección a nuestro sitio A partir de hoy, publicaremos contenido en español para nuestros numerosos visitantes de habla hispana. Para acceder a una lista completa del contenido en español, haga clic en la etiqueta “Español” en la parte superior de la página, o, cuando vea contenido en inglés que tenga una versión en español, use el botón “en español” para cambiar de versión. More

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Rabies in the Summer

Foxes and other wild animals may carry rabies. Jans Canon via Flickr, CC by 3.0 Memorial Day is the traditional start to the summer season in the United States. While having fun and being with friends and family are always at the top of the list of things to do during summer, being safe and staying healthy should also be on our minds. There are some things to be mindful of when heading outdoors to parks and forests. These things include preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes, cooking and storing food properly, wearing proper sunscreen, swimming safely, and rabies.

Why rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease of mammals. While there are plenty of cases of rabies in animals in the United States, human cases are extremely rare, with one or two cases reported each year. This is because there is a robust public health system that responds to cases of possible and confirmed rabies exposure in humans. There is also a functioning veterinary health system -- and public policies -- that require immunization of household pets like cats and dogs. In the rest of the world, most of the 55,000 deaths from human rabies each year happen as a result of dog bites.[1] More

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Hepatitis A in Indiana

CDC/Amanda Mills On May 10, 2012, the Vanderburgh (Indiana) County Health Department issued a health alert regarding hepatitis A associated with a local restaurant. A person with hepatitis A had worked at the restaurant as a bartender, handling food and drinks, between April 20 and May 3, 2012, when the person would have been contagious. Because hepatitis A vaccine is useful in preventing hepatitis A only for 14 days after exposure, some of the people who were exposed did not qualify for vaccination. They were asked to seek medical care if they showed signs and symptoms of hepatitis A. However, those who ate at this restaurant between April 27 and May 3 had an opportunity to be immunized until May 17, 2012.[1] As of May 14, 2012, more than 500 people had requested the vaccination from the health department. More

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