History of Vaccines Blog


June 23, 2019  Rene F. Najera

More deaths from measles than from Ebola have been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, most of them in children. So which disease is worse? Which should be addressed first? Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, General, Measles, Public Health

April 21, 2019  Rene F. Najera

Some of the misinformation regarding vaccines includes an argument that vaccines have not been tested against a saline placebo in a double-blinded randomized clinical trial. This misinformation is aimed at confusing the wealth of evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of immunizations. In this blog post, we will explain what a blinded randomized clinical trial is, when this study design has been used in the development of immunizations, and why it is not used as often anymore. Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, General, Measles, Vaccine Research

November 9, 2018  Rene F. Najera

Thailand and Indonesia are facing increased rates of cases and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Most of these are directly caused by vaccine refusal based on religious edicts about vaccination. While many of the world's major religions encourage or do not openly oppose vaccination, there is still some confusion as to whether or not religious practice or religious law approves some or all vaccines. The Dakar Declaration on Vaccination made it very clear that, from an Islamic point of view, vaccines are necessary for the health and wellbeing of children in particular and the community in general. Still, the concepts laid out in the declaration has not reached Muslim believers in remote places of Southeast Asia. At least not yet... Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, General

May 22, 2015  Karie Youngdahl

How far should state power extend into medical decisions that parents make on behalf of their children? What is a parent’s responsibility to children in the community who have particular susceptibility to harm from infectious diseases? These questions framed the discussion we had last week here at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia on pending legislation in Pennsylvania to eliminate personal belief exemptions to school vaccination requirements. Both the bill’s sponsor, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach (17th District) and Paul A. Offit, MD, argued that personal belief exemptions allow parents to shirk responsibility for keeping their communities safe and healthy. The Honorable James G. Colins, President Judge Emeritus, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, introduced and moderated the event. Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, Public Health

April 23, 2015  Karie Youngdahl

Please join us on May 14, 2015, at 6:30 pm, when we'll be hosting a panel discussion on legislation pending in the Pennsylvania state legislature that would end philosophical/moral/personal belief exemptions to school vaccination requirements. In light of Pennsylvania's relatively low rate of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination coverage (in 2013-2014, 85.3% of Pennsylvania kindergarteners had received both doses of MMR vaccines, as compared with the nation's median of 94.7%) and the 2014-15 measles outbreak related to exposures at Disneyland, this topic is very timely. Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, Public Health

May 14, 2014  Karie Youngdahl

The sight of a red cross or crescent on a white background is supposed to signal medical aid, neutrality, and safety. In conflicts around the world, however, hostile actors are flouting decades of protocol and the Geneva convention itself: they are killing and kidnapping Red Cross, Red Crescent, and other emergency aid workers. Al Qaeda-associated militants kidnapped an International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent (ICRC) team in Mali in February this year (military forces freed them about a week later). ICRC polio vaccination workers and staff were killed in Afghanistan in April 2014. Polio vaccinators and their guards have been killed in Pakistan and Nigeria as well. Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, Polio, Public Health

April 29, 2014  Karie Youngdahl

A Monday afternoon session at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Annual Conference on Vaccine Research was entitled “Current Challenges in Immunization Policy.” The topics ranged from vaccine hesitancy, effectiveness of acellular pertussis vaccine, and the burden of adverse events from rotavirus vaccination. Saad B. Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD, of the Emory Vaccine Center, is widely published on vaccine refusal and its consequences in relation to disease. Most of the work he presented Monday explored the relationship between vaccine hesitancy and pertussis incidence.  Read more...

Posted in: Rotavirus, Ethics, Pertussis (whooping cough)

July 16, 2012  Project Director

In 1988, the WHO predicted that polio would be eradicated by 2000. Today, in 2012, we impatiently watch as polio continues to infect and paralyze children. Why has polio survived even though international aid groups been working so hard to stop it?  One major recent development is mirrored in the past: distrust and boycott of the polio vaccine. Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, Polio, Public Health

May 12, 2012  Project Director

Cholera is one of those diseases that you really don’t want to get. It begins like any other intestinal illness, with abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Suddenly, a very profuse, watery diarrhea develops. So much water leaves the body through the diarrhea that the person’s mouth becomes dry. He stops urinating because he has no fluid left. Eyes become sunken, and the sufferer loses his energy. During the course of the disease, a person with cholera may pass as many as 13 US gallons (or 50 liters) of fluid. Left untreated, cholera can kill a person in a matter of hours to days from severe dehydration. Read more...

Posted in: Cholera, Ethics, Public Health

February 23, 2012  Project Director

Recent furor around research on the H5N1 virus strain that has caused influenza in birds and rare cases of severe influenza in people may have died down for the time being after last week’s meeting of a group of experts assembled by the World Health Organization. They recommended that two different groups involved in what has come to be seen as controversial research should publish their findings in full. A halt on the bird flu research in question and publication of those data is still in place, however, and will likely last a few months longer. To date, this H5N1 virus is not efficiently transmissible among humans – in fact, humans generally have been infected only after close contact with infected poultry. But virologist Ron Fouchier at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam manipulated the virus so that it became easily transmissible between ferrets via airborne droplets. (Ferrets are a useful standin for humans in influenza studies.) A team headed by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Madison-Wisconsin accomplished similar results: both papers were under review for publication by science journals before the controversy developed. Read more...

Posted in: Ethics, Influenza