The History of Vaccines is an award-winning informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, one of the oldest medical societies in the United States. A group of prominent Philadelphia physicians, including Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush, established the College in 1787 “to advance the science of medicine and to thereby lessen human misery.”
Today, the College’s mission is "to advance the cause of health while upholding the ideals and heritage of medicine." All aspects of the College—its Fellows, its Historical Medical Library, the world-renowned Mütter Museum, its public health initiatives, and its public lecture series—serve this mission.
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
For 2011, The History of Vaccines was awarded Webby Honoree status in the Science category, the Honorable Mention for Education at Museums and the Web's "Best of the Web" awards, and Best in Class in the Science/Technology category of the Interactive Media Awards.
Since 2014, The History of Vaccines has been certified by the World Health Organization as a reliable, accurate provider of information on vaccine safety topics. The criteria and process for certification are here. Only about 100 websites worldwide have been so approved, and all such sites belong to the WHO's Vaccine Safety Net.
The College has created The History of Vaccines to provide a living, changing chronicle of the compelling history of vaccination, from pre-Jennerian variolation practices, to the defeat of polio in the Western Hemisphere, to cutting-edge approaches to novel vaccines and vaccine delivery. The site aims to increase public knowledge and understanding of the ways in which vaccines, toxoids, and passive immunization work, how they have been developed, and the role they have played in the improvement of human health.
The site also discusses some of the controversies about vaccination and some of the challenges, difficulties, and tragic events that have occurred in the use of vaccines.
Much of the historical material that appears on The History of Vaccines comes from The College’s Historical Medical Library and its wealth of rare books, medical journals, manuscripts, and archives.
The History of Vaccines is targeted to parents who are making vaccination decisions for their children; secondary school and university students in biology, health, and history classes; and those among the general public who want to know more about vaccines and their history.
The content of The History of Vaccines is developed by College staff members, who engage the full resources of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and its Fellowship. The current editor is René F. Najera, DrPH. René is an Associate in the Epidemiology Department at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The History of Vaccines staff members rely as well on an independent Editorial Advisory Board. These three entities are solely responsible for the content of the site.
Editorial Advisory Board members have adopted a conflict of interest policy, stating that they will remove themselves from discussions and voting if they or an immediate family member has a material economic interest in a particular matter.
Vaccine-related news headlines and medical publications are scanned weekly, and content is updated as needed when new developments occur. History of Vaccines staff conducts a thorough review of site content every six months.
Editorial Advisory Board
Andreas Bollmann, MD, PhD, FAAP
Attending Physician, Pediatric Associates, Inc.
Esther Chernak, MD, MPH
Associate Clinical Professor, Director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication; Drexel University School of Public Health
Thomas Fekete, MD
Chair, Department of Medicine; Professor, Medicine; Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology; School of Medicine, Temple University
Hilary Koprowski, MD (dec.)
Professor Laureate, The Wistar Institute; Professor, Department of Cancer Biology, Thomas Jefferson University
Paul A. Offit, MD
Attending Physician, Section of Infectious Diseases; Director, Vaccine Education Center; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Carla M. Owens, MA, LPC
Parent Advisory Board, Voices for Vaccines
Stanley A. Plotkin, MD
Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania; Emeritus Professor, The Wistar Institute
Lisa Rosner, PhD
Professor of History, Stockton College
George M. Wohlreich, MD, MA, DSc (Hon), FCPP
President and CEO, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Michael Yudell, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor and Chair, Community Health and Prevention; Drexel University School of Public Health
Industry Advisory Board
The Industry Advisory Board of The History of Vaccines provides guidance on matters related to vaccine manufacturing and does not exercise control or influence over site content or editorial policy.
Joseph S. Camardo, MD
Senior Vice President, Celgene Corporation
Matthew P. Morrow, MPhil, PhD
Product Development Scientist, Inovio Pharmaceuticals
The History of Vaccines is supported by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia as well as donors to the project. Donors do not shape the content of this website.
Link to Us
You can link to The History of Vaccines (www.historyofvaccines.org) and help us spread the word about this project. Instructions for linking to the site and graphics for linking to us are available here.
Those interested in partnerships with The History of Vaccines that might help us garner readers and attention can email us.
Media who would like to report on The History of Vaccines website should visit our media page.
Contact The History of Vaccines for content and technical support questions:
The History of Vaccines
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
19 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-3097
Last Updated: 7 July 2021