History of Vaccines Blog

February 27, 2013   Karie Youngdahl

Thanks to Joshua Prasad, MPH student at Drexel University School of Public Health, for putting together the information from the White House in an easy-to-read way. Most of you are probably following the news about the potential sequester that may begin on March 1. If US lawmakers can’t come to an agreement to avert the sequester, many federal agencies and programs will need to make across the board budget cuts of 10%. One area in which the cuts may be felt is seasonal influenza response and planning. Representative Henry Waxman summarized CDC Director Tom Friedan’s description of the effects of sequestration on CDC’s influenza immunization activities in the following way:

Posted in: Public Health

February 25, 2013   Project Director

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of our long-time Fellow and Presidential Advisor, C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD. Dr. Koop was more than a colleague: he was a mentor, advisor, and teacher, but most importantly, our brother and friend. His dedication to our profession and service to this College helped us all better understand what it means to be part of medicine.  His compassion for his patients taught us how to be good and caring physicians.

Posted in: General

February 25, 2013   Karie Youngdahl

What does the following list mean to you? Bill Gates, Stanley Plotkin, Rino Rappouli, Melinda Gates, Seth Berkley, Paul Offit, Suresh Jadhav, Ted Bianco, Ciro de Quadro, Gordon Dougan. Followers of the blog and LinkedIn group Vaccine Nation chose the ten as the most influential people in the vaccine world. Vaccine Nation is run by Terrapinn, a media company that sponsors conferences on, among other things, vaccines and orphan drugs. The full list of vaccine influencers is 50 names long, and includes individuals in academia and research institutes, industry, NGOs and nonprofits, and government.

Posted in: General

January 28, 2013   Karie Youngdahl

As of today, The History of Vaccines has published a book. This book has been in the making for the past few months and features new material and material adapted from the History of Vaccines website. The book showcases more than 40 illustrations and photographs, many of them drawn from the Historical Medical Library here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. It was generously funded by an independent educational grant from Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.

Posted in: General

January 17, 2013   Project Director

We've just posted a set of video clips of an interview we conducted in October 2012 with March of Dimes archivist David Rose. Rose was here to give a talk about the Foundation's involvement in polio treatment and vaccine research and promotion from the 1930s through the 1960s. He discussed the role of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt in found the March of Dimes and funding medical treatments for children and adults with paralytic polio. Addtionally, he gave an overview of the principle researchers investigating poliovirus at the time: the Enders team in Boston, Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh, and Albert Sabin at the Universty of Cincinnati.

Posted in: Polio

January 14, 2013   Karie Youngdahl

I take the influenza vaccine just about every year, and blogged about my reasons for doing so last year. But I was curious about my co-workers: we work in an organization whose mission is “to advance the cause of health and uphold the ideals and heritage of medicine.” Would they be more likely than the average American to take the vaccine? Or would we look roughly like the American population, of whom about 58% pass up the vaccine? I managed to talk to just about everyone here who works directly for the College in a full-time capacity. I told people that they were not obligated to answer my question (one person declined to participate). In response to “Did you get a flu shot this year?” 13 people responded that they had, and 17 people said that they hadn’t. So, here at the College we have about 43% uptake of the vaccine, on par with the national 42%. I was surprised.

Posted in: Influenza

January 9, 2013   Project Director

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.

Posted in: Influenza, Public Health

December 13, 2012   Karie Youngdahl

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.

Posted in: Historical Medical Library, Smallpox

December 3, 2012   Project Director

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.

Posted in: Influenza, Public Health

October 26, 2012   Project Director

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.

Posted in: Pertussis (whooping cough), Meningococcal disease