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History of Vaccines Blog


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

May 16, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is pleased to announce that the award-winning HistoryofVaccines.org 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 HistoryofVaccines.org 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

March 21, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

I'm happy to announce that The College of Physicians is hosting a lecture on April 3, 2017, that will be of great interest to History of Vaccines readers. This lecture, by Stockton University professor and History of Vaccines advisor Lisa Rosner, PhD, marks the 300th anniversary of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's well-known letter to an English friend about smallpox inoculation as practiced in Turkey. With her "Letter to a Friend," she became one of the earliest inoculation advocates, and she would be joined over the next 300 years by the celebrities and scientists, pop culture icons and heads of state, patients and game developers, who advocated for, or criticized, inoculation and vaccination. This talk will explore this colorful history of vaccine advocacy from Lady Mary to The Pox Hunter, a digital strategy game set in Benjamin Rush's Philadelphia.

Posted in: General, Smallpox

January 11, 2017  Karie Youngdahl

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s announcement yesterday that president-elect Donald J. Trump asked him to chair a government commission on "vaccine safety and scientific integrity" has prompted a deluge of responses on social media, on blogs, and in the media in general. Though he calls himself (and Trump) "very pro-vaccine," Kennedy has been a dogged pursuer of the discredited connection between vaccination and autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. If Kennedy's statement about his appointment is true -- and a Trump spokesperson has not quite confirmed it -- public health and medical workers are right to be concerned about the effect this commission may have on public perception of vaccines. 

Posted in: General, Public Health

December 20, 2016  Karie Youngdahl

After years of hopes and false starts for a new Lyme disease vaccine, a French vaccine company has announced that their candidate vaccine will be tested for safety in humans. Valneva has received US Food and Drug Administration and European Union Clinical Trial Application approval to conduct a Phase I trial in 180 adults in sites in both the United States (Lincoln, Nebraska) and Europe (Ghent, Belgium). A pre-clinical trial of the vaccine candidate showed that it was effective at preventing Lyme disease in mice. The proposed dosage is a three-dose series at 0, 1-2, and 12 months, with a booster after 3-5 years. If the vaccine safety profile is acceptable in the Phase I trial, it would then proceed to a Phase II efficacy trial.

Posted in: General

November 10, 2016  Karie Youngdahl

What does the United States president-elect have to say about vaccines?

Donald J. Trump has frequently stated that he believes that vaccines can cause autism, as in the Tweets shown here. In one of the primary debates, he dialed back his criticism a bit, stating, “I am totally in favor of vaccines, but I want smaller doses over a longer period of time.” But as Tara Haelle, a blogger at Forbes.com wrote, “Vaccines are very precisely manufactured to include only what is absolutely necessary to induce enough of an immune response that the body can protect itself against those diseases. So a smaller dose wouldn’t protect a child. It would stick a child with a needle for no reason at all. And spreading out vaccines? That just increases the risks to the children, including leaving them more susceptible to the diseases for a longer period of time. Trump is not ‘totally in favor of vaccines’ if he doesn’t want children protected from the diseases above as early as possible.” In contrast, in 2015, Hillary Clinton Tweeted, “The Science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.”

Posted in: General, Public Health

October 12, 2016  Karie Youngdahl

Frequent visitors to this site will probably be acquainted with the name Maurice Hilleman and the man's work. During a long career with the U.S. Army, Squibb, and Merck, Hilleman developed dozens of vaccines and made important innovations in vaccinology. Before Hilleman died in 2005, Paul A. Offit, MD, himself developer of a widely used rotavirus vaccine, filmed a series of interviews with Hilleman and other scientists. Now Dr. Offit has produced and released a documentary using the footage, and we are proud to host a screening of it. It's an excellent film, with fascinating historical footage, animations, and insights into the world of infectious diseases prevention. Please join us for the screening -- we think you'll really enjoy the film.

Posted in: General, Measles

May 12, 2016  Karie Youngdahl

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is pleased to announce a public program on Monday, May 16, 2016, at 8 am (breakfast at 7:30am) on the Zika virus epidemic. Scott C. Weaver, PhD, of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the Galveston (Texas) National Laboratory, and Professor, Departments of Pathology and Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, will speak about current efforts toward understanding Zika virus pathophysiology and epidemiology and building an effective Zika virus vaccine. Paul A. Offit, MD, vaccine developer and chief of infectious diseases of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, will comment.

Posted in: General