History of Vaccines Blog

December 12, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

In 2018 people in the United States over age 50 will have the opportunity to take a new, highly effective, long-lasting vaccine for shingles. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine, Zoster Vaccine Recombinant, Adjuvanted (tradename Shingrix, manufactured by GSK) on October 20, 2017. On October 25, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend the vaccine for adults over age 50. The ACIP action specifically recommends Shingrix over Zoster vaccine, live (tradename Zostavax, manufactured by Merck), the only other licensed shingles vaccine. Additionally, ACIP recommends that adults who have already taken Zostavax be vaccinated with Shingrix.

Posted in: Varicella zoster

December 5, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

For National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), we interviewed Dalton G. Paxman, PhD, FCPP, Regional Health Administrator for the mid-Atlantic region of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). NIVW is a national observance 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. 1) Why is it important to get an annual flu vaccine Each flu season, the flu virus causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths. Getting vaccinated protects you and the people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions. 2) Who should get a flu shot? Who shouldn’t? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, including pregnant women, as long as flu viruses are circulating, which means it’s not too late to get vaccinated, even in January or later. However, there are groups of individuals who should not get the flu vaccine. Those groups include children younger than 6 months old and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any of its ingredients. Additionally, people who have an allergy to eggs or other vaccine ingredients, people who have ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and people who are feeling ill should consult with their doctor before getting a flu shot

Posted in: Influenza, Public Health

October 30, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

On October 18 we conducted our fourth annual influenza vaccination clinic here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. By offering the clinic here, during work hours, and for free, we hope to reduce as many barriers to vaccination as possible, such as preventing the trip to the doctor or the pharmacy, overcoming inertia. Of course, we are also hoping to keep staffers, their families and friends, and building visitors healthy, too! We partnered with a service available from our health insurance provider to give the quadrivalent influenza vaccine on site. As an incentive, we gave a $10 Trader Joe's gift card to anyone who got the vaccine.

Posted in: Influenza

September 28, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

The World Health Organization has reached another disease elimination milestone: the organization announced on September 21, 2017, that maternal and neonatal tetanus have been eliminated from the WHO Region of the Americas. This achievement comes after a concerted campaign in Haiti to prevent the disease through intensive immunization campaigns, improved surveillance, and attention to safe birth and umbilical care practices. Tetanus is a serious infection with particularly high case-fatality rates in neonates, who may contract the disease via unhygienic birth practices and through improper handling of the umbilical cord and stump. Tetanus has an unusual elimination threshold – unlike other disease that have been eradicated (smallpox) or eliminated regionally (polio, rubella, and measles in the Americas for example), tetanus is not passed person-to-person.

Posted in: Public Health, Tetanus

September 12, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

The prestigious Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for 2017 goes to two scientists who did groundbreaking work conceptualizing and developing a vaccine for human papillomavirus, the pathogen responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer and for many other cancers as well. Prize recipients Douglas R. Lowy, MD, and John T. Schiller, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute (U.S. National Institutes of Health) devised a unique solution to a vaccine for an oncogenic (cancer-causing) virus.

Posted in: HPV, Vaccine Research

August 8, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

Today's blog post is by Mütter Museum and History of Vaccines intern Carley Roche. The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia has a vast collection of medals, pins, and ribbons representing some of the most significant events and people in medical history. Recently I have had the opportunity to reorganize and rehouse this collection. This project has allowed me to closely inspect each item in this particular collection. Below are a few medals representing some of the most influential moments and players in the history of vaccines. Since antiquity historians have written records of disease outbreaks that may have been cholera. However, the seven major pandemics of the disease started being recorded in the early 19th century as knowledge of the disease grew. The second cholera pandemic, which reached East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Americas claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people from 1829-51. The featured medal’s inscription is in French--Paris, with a population of 650,000 at the time, took a devastating loss of 20,000 people to cholera.

Posted in: Cholera, General, Tuberculosis

July 11, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

A year of measles outbreaks in Europe have led to 35 deaths and more than 12,000 confirmed cases. Thirty-one of the measles deaths have occurred in Romania, where years of declining measles-containing vaccine (MCV) coverage is taking its toll. For 2015, the World Health Organization estimates two-dose MCV coverages at 88% of Romanian children, down from a high of 97% coverage in 2003. Measles remains endemic in 14 European countries. In most countries experiencing outbreaks this year, measles immunization rates are much lower than the 95% coverage needed to support herd immunity.Italy alone has recorded 3,300 confirmed cases of measles and one death this year to date – the last time the US, obviously a much larger country, recorded more cases was in 1991, the year of a major epidemic.

Posted in: Measles, Public Health

May 16, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is pleased to announce that the award-winning is now available in Arabic, Hindi, and Urdu. This project, generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, makes available to hundreds of millions of more global visitors reliable, accurate information on immunization’s history and its continuing contributions to human health. The three-language site—a companion to the existing sites in English and Spanish—offers more than 40 articles, four activities, and a timeline of vaccine history, all adapted to World Health Organization immunization guidelines and presented in a contemporary, graphically dynamic format. These resources will give parents, students, and healthcare workers useful information that until now has not been widely accessible to readers of Hindi, Urdu, and Arabic.

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, known also as home of the Mütter Museum, launched in 2010, and added a Spanish version of the site in 2012. The online resource items from the College’s museum and library collections to explore the history of vaccination and vaccine development. Almost 2 million unique visitors from across the world used the site in 2016.

Posted in: General

April 24, 2017  Karie Youngdahl
By 2017, will polio be eradicated? Will we have a new Lyme disease vaccine? Can we make influenza vaccines more effective? Vaccinologist Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, made a series of predictions for the field for the next ten years that included some hopeful answers to these questions, along with a more pessimistic take on the effect of the current political climate on vaccine acceptance and support for scientific research. Plotkin made his predictions at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Annual Conference on Vaccine Research in Bethesda, Maryland. But first, he reviewed his predictions from the 2007 conference when he completed a similar exercise.
Some of his 2007 predictions have come to pass: a new monovalent rotavirus vaccine was licensed, the rotavirus disease burden in developed countries that use the vaccine has been greatly reduced, and the HIV vaccine tested in the Thai trial showed partial efficacy. However, his prediction did not come to pass that by 2017 a prophylactic Type 1 diabetes vaccine for those at high genetic risk of the disease would be licensed.
Posted in: General, HIV, Influenza, Pertussis (whooping cough), Pneumococcal disease, Polio, Public Health, Rotavirus, Vaccine Research

March 30, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

With Women’s History Month coming to an end, intern Carley Roche recognizes two influential female researchers whose work has saved countless lives. Margaret Pittman was born January 20, 1901, in Prairie Grove, Arkansas. After graduating magna cum laude with a BA in mathematics and biology she went on to attend the University of Chicago. By 1929, Pittman had received both her master’s and her PhD in bacteriology.

Posted in: General, Pertussis (whooping cough), Vaccine Research