The History of Vaccines Blog

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

Plant-Based Vaccine Manufacturing

Nicotiana. Source openi.nlm.nih.gov As visitors to this site know, the development of new methods to cultivate viruses for vaccine use has been an important part of the history of vaccines. From living, complex organisms such as humans and cows, to chicken eggs, to tissue explants, to mammalian cells in culture, various hosts have been used at different stages of technological development to produce vaccine material. Now, recombinant technology, like cell culture technology before it, is changing the way vaccines are made as plants are being programmed to produce antigens for vaccines. Last week, College of Physicians Director and CEO George M. Wohlreich, MD, and I made a visit to a unique research facility in Newark, Delaware, last week to see first-hand the future of vaccines. Fraunhofer USA’s Center for Molecular Biotechnology built this 14,000 square foot plant-based vaccine research and manufacturing facility, funded partly by grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). More

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An AIDS Free Generation: Inspiring Youth at AIDS 2012

Exhibit at AIDS 2012 This past week, I had the chance to visit the International AIDS Conference held in Washington, DC. One of the most striking aspects of the conference was the number of young people who were there to advocate, coordinate, and communicate their beliefs and stories about AIDS. The youth have taken a stand and will certainly be a force in the future fight against the deadly disease. Here at History of Vaccines we strive to spread information about these horrific diseases to youth everywhere. After attending AIDS 2012, I realized how important it is to go beyond educating about the science of these diseases – and to actually teach young people what others in their generation are doing and how they got involved. Here are stories, tips, and inspirational quotes from some of the amazing youth I met at the conference. Keep up the good work, everyone! More

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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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