The History of Vaccines Blog

Plotkin and Offit in Top Ten Most Influential in Vaccines

Stanley A. Plotkin, MD. Courtesy Dr. Plotkin 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. More

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History of Vaccines Publishes Book

The History of Vaccines, available at 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. More

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New Videos: March of Dimes and Polio

David Rose, Archivist, March of Dimes 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. More

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Influenza Vaccine Uptake Here at the College

My arm, 2011 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. More

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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

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