The History of Vaccines Blog

Looking Back at the CIDRAP Influenza Vaccine Report

Influenza viruses, copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. Every year, beginning in early fall, public health messages go out to the American public encouraging influenza immunizations. The reason for this is simple to understand. Influenza causes yearly epidemics during the cold months in each hemisphere – December to March in the northern hemisphere and June to September in the southern hemisphere. To prevent illness and even death from influenza, public health authorities encourage influenza vaccination of all people age 6 months and older. The vaccine – available as an injection or a nasal spray – has been promoted as “the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others.” Shortly after the 2009 influenza pandemic, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), based at the University of Minnesota, undertook a Comprehensive Influenza Vaccine Initiative (CCIVI). The primary objectives of the CCIVI “were to provide a comprehensive review of all aspects of 2009-2010 pandemic A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza vaccine preparedness and response based on the events of the pandemic vaccine effort and to review the scientific and programmatic basis for the current seasonal influenza vaccine efforts.” This review took about three years, and it was an exhaustive analysis of many aspects of what goes into getting those yearly influenza vaccines from the manufacturer and into the arms or noses of consumers. More

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Animal Vaccination Scene 1872

1872, Charles Guillou. The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. We came across this sketch of smallpox vaccine production in the Historical Medical Library’s collection of materials from Charles F. Guillou (1813-1899). Dr. Guillou was a native Philadelphian who spent many years as a U.S. naval surgeon. In fact, he kept spectacular visual diaries on several scientifically and diplomatically important journeys. He was part of the infamous Wilkes Expedition that explored the Pacific coast. He also sailed with the U.S. Frigate Constitution and met and impressed King Kamehameha IV during the ship’s stay in the Hawaiian islands. After Guillou finished his naval service, he returned to Hawaii, opened several hospitals, and served as Court Physician to the king. More

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National Influenza Vaccination Week: Interview with HHS Regional Health Administrator

Dalton G. Paxman, PhD, FCCP For National Influenza Vaccination Week, we interviewed Dalton Paxman, PhD, FCPP, Regional Health Administrator for the mid-Atlantic region, where he oversees public health initiatives for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIVW is a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond. Dr. Paxman answer our questions about regional influenza activity and vaccine availability as well as his office's involvement in seasonal flu vaccination. More

ACIP Makes New Tdap and Meningococcal Vaccine Recommendations

Neisseria meningitidis, copyright Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. As of October 24, 2012, the U.S. Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends to vaccinate all pregnant women against pertussis (whooping cough) with the Tdap vaccine regardless of whether they have had Tdap in the past. If that is not feasible, the vaccine should be given upon discharge from the hospital or birthing center. Giving the vaccine during pregnancy allows for the mother's immune system to make antibodies, that then get transferred to the newborn body through the umbilical cord. This can protect the infant during the time before he or she receives the first set of scheduled vaccines at two months of age. The vaccine was previously recommended to be given to pregnant women who never had the Tdap vaccine, but it has now been determined that a single dose of Tdap vaccine is not enough to protect for additional pregnancies. More

World Polio Day: High Schoolers Look at the Salk Vaccine Trial

Pin from 1954 Salk Polio Vaccine Trial, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Let’s congratulate a group of Fairview High School (Boulder, Colorado) students who won second place in the senior group documentary category in the annual National History Day competition. Kali, Charlie, Rohith, Jessica, and Jack put together an excellent collection of resources to trace the history of polio in the United States from its emergence as an epidemic disease in the 1890s through the success of the 1954 vaccine trial. More

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History of Vaccines by Wistar Institute President

Courtesy Wistar Institute Philadelphia is an excellent place to learn about the history of vaccines, and The Wistar Institute, the country’s first independent biomedical research facility, is in great part responsible for this rich history. On Friday, September 28, Wistar Institute President and CEO Russel E. Kaufman, MD, spoke to a group of Wistar Institute friends and donors at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. (Wistar is in the midst of a major construction project and has limited meeting space.) He told that crowd that he wanted us to unlearn some things we think we know about vaccines. In particular, he mentioned that he wanted to draw our attention to the way that scientific advancement truly happens: typically, it doesn’t result from a brilliant insight, followed by a methodical plan of action. Rather, accidents, collaboration, and learning from the context of one’s scientific milieu are important factors that affect scientific progress. More

October 1: Talk by March of Dimes Curator on Polio, Rubella

Patient in iron lung. National Library of Medicine If you're near Philadelphia, please join us Monday, October 1, at 6:30 pm, for a free talk by March of Dimes Archivist David Rose. Register at http://davidrose-eorg.eventbrite.com/. The talk will be held at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19 S. 22 Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103.

It is possible we may see polio eradicated from the world in our lifetime. The elusive goal of polio eradication began with the race to develop an effective vaccine in the mid-twentieth century. Little was known about poliovirus then, but the research of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin, and other scientists catapulted into the news headlines through the efforts of the March of Dimes. More

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Influenza and Children with Neurologic Disorders

Influenza virus. CDC/Doug Jordan, M.A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a study in the journal Pediatrics on the effects of influenza in children with neurologic disorders. The study compared clinical outcomes during and after influenza, like hospitalization and death, between children with and without neurologic disorders. For the this study, researchers looked at the medical records of reported pediatric deaths between April 15 and September 30 of 2009, during the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Of the 336 pediatric deaths associated with influenza that were reviewed in the study, 227 (68%) “had at least 1 underlying condition that conferred an increased risk of complications of influenza.” Of those 227, 164 (64%) had a neurologic disorder. More

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Mumps in the United Kingdom

Image credit: CDC/NIP/ Barbara Rice The United Kingdom’s Department of Health Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) recently released the minutes from its latest meeting held in January. At that meeting, the committee discussed findings by its subcommittee on adolescent vaccinations regarding mumps in the United Kingdom, among other topics. The minutes record that the “sub-committee noted that a number of significant outbreaks of mumps had been seen in the UK over the last decade. Cases had been mainly limited to unimmunised and partially immunised individuals, however more recently a significant portion of infections were being confirmed in those who had received two MMR doses. However, generally mumps disease is less severe in immunised individuals.” More

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Influenza H3N2v

Source: USDA. Photo by Keith Weller Even in the heat of summer, influenza is in the news. An outbreak of what is being termed H3N2v influenza has emerged in Indiana and Ohio, affecting as many as 130 people and counting. The infection has been detected in people who had exposure to pigs that were sick with the H3N2v strain. While person-to-person infections have been detected, these seem to be limited and do not go beyond one or two people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More