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When Bad News Is Good News

Haemophilus influenzae, (c) Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc. Our advisor, Thomas Fekete, MD, FCPP, wrote today’s post. Dr. Fekete, a frequent contributor to this site and an active Fellow here at the College, has many responsibilities at Temple University Hospital and School of Medicine: Section Chief, Infectious Diseases; Professor, Medicine; Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; and Executive Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, Department of Medicine. Twenty-plus years ago, an improved (protein-conjugated) vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was approved and deployed extensively in young children in most developed countries. There was a rapid and sustained drop in serious infections caused by Hib. This reduction of meningitis, pneumonia, blood infections, and so on was dramatic and was accompanied by a major reduction in the formerly common and seemingly innocent carriage of Hib in the throats of children. As a result, even unvaccinated children had protection from Hib via herd immunity. More

Vaccine Skepticism as a Feminist Stance?

The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Elena Conis published a recent essay in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, entitled “A Mother’s Responsibility: Women, Medicine, and the Rise of Contemporary Vaccine Skepticism in the United States.” I had heard Conis give a talk on this same topic at a conference a few years earlier, and some her claims didn’t sit well with me. In the BHM piece, she looks at vaccine resistance beginning in the 1970s and 1980s and traces its origins to second-wave feminism and its critical view of the medical establishment. Her argument is that at a time when women were still being asked to be guardians of their children’s health – uniquely in a position to protect and care for their children in what was still an almost Victorian model of motherhood – feminist notions of self-care and self-empowerment conflicted with medical practice around vaccination. Parents, particularly mothers, began to question received medical notions about vaccination – that benefits of disease prevention almost always outweighed the risks of vaccination. In publications as extremely back-to-nature as Mothering and as conventional as Dear Abby columns, women discussed the need for vaccination and worried about medical side effects More

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American Presidents and Infectious Diseases

We've expanded and updated a popular post from 2012 by History of Vaccines former intern Alexandra Linn. Happy Fourth of July! In honor of this historic U.S. holiday, we’ve compiled a list showing how infectious diseases 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. More

Video: Do Vaccines Overwhelm the Infant Immune System?

Courtesy Academic Earth AcademicEarth, an educational video and online course provider, has just produced a video for its collection of video electives-–standalone videos that illustrate interesting concepts across a variety of disciplines.In this video, they take on the “too many, too soon” argument often made by vaccine objectors: that receiving multiple vaccines at one time is harmful to a baby or child. The narrator tries to estimate total antigen exposure to age 18 and then compares that figure with antigen exposure via vaccination to age 6. More

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C. Everett Koop 1916-2013

C. Everett Koop. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia 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. More

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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 Amazon.com 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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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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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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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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