Vaccines & Infectious Diseases

“To improve the health of our communities we are comprehensively evaluating the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in current use, conducting clinical trials of promising new vaccines, and studying the patterns of infectious diseases in our population.”

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Research overview

Vaccines save lives by protecting people against infectious diseases—polio, influenza, and malaria to name a few. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) is working to protect communities through research to continually improve the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and other treatments for infectious diseases as well as cancer. We also test new vaccines that may stop the threat of emerging diseases such as the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID-19.

Our research projects on vaccines and infectious diseases include:

  • clinical trials conducted by the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Led by KPWHRI Senior Investigator and Washington Permanente Medical Group physician Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH, this unit launched the world’s first trial of an experimental candidate vaccine against COVID-19 in March 2020;
  • studies of how infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza spread through communities;
  • ongoing monitoring of influenza vaccine effectiveness by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network, led by Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH, KPWHRI associate investigator, and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and
  • studies of immunization safety through the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) Project, supported by the CDC and connecting information in large databases maintained by 8 American health plans including Kaiser Permanente Washington.

Successes over 3 decades of KPWHRI research on vaccines and preventing and treating infectious disease include:

  • a large study of flu vaccination in seniors that found that the vaccine might not protect them from pneumonia as well as hoped;
  • a “real-time” evaluation of the safety of the new shingles vaccine in older adults across the VSD network;
  • clinical trials of investigational flu vaccines, including ones against pandemic flu and bird flu, in adults;
  • studies to better understand and address “vaccine hesitancy” among families who delay or refuse vaccinating their children because of safety fears, leading to outbreaks of potentially deadly outbreaks of illnesses such as whooping cough and measles.
  • the biggest retrospective study of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine effectiveness in adults and the largest clinical trial on the safety of this vaccine; and
  • the pivotal clinical trials of 7-valent, 13-valent, and 20-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in older adults. ​​​

Recent publications on Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Friedmann PD, Abraham A, Evans E, Glass J, Ilgen M, Montgomery L. Editorial: COVID-19 and its impact on SUD treatment. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2020 Oct;117:108091. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108091. PubMed

Jackson LA, Roberts PC, Graham BS. A SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine - preliminary report. N Engl J Med. 2020 Aug 19;383(12):10.1056/NEJMc2026616#sa3. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2026616. PubMed

Balasubramani GK, Choi WS, Nowalk MP, Zimmerman RK, Monto AS, Martin ET, Belongia EA, McLean HQ, Gaglani M, Murthy K, Jackson ML, Jackson LA, Chung JR, Spencer S, Fry AM, Patel M, Flannery B; US Flu VE Network Investigators. Relative effectiveness of high dose versus standard dose influenza vaccines in older adult outpatients over four seasons, 2015-16 to 2018-19. Vaccine. 2020 Aug 12:S0264-410X(20)31032-X. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.08.011. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Flannery B, Meece JK, Williams JV, Martin ET, Gaglani M, Jackson ML, Talbot HK. Systematic testing for influenza and COVID-19 among patients with respiratory illness. LID - ciaa1023 [pii] LID - 10.1093/cid/ciaa1023 [doi] FAU - Flannery, Brendan AU - Flannery B Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Jul 20:ciaa1023. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1023 [Epub ahead of print] PubMed

Munoz FM, Patel SM, Jackson LA, Swamy GK, Edwards KM, Frey SE, Petrie CR, Sendra EA, Keitel WA. Safety and immunogenicity of three seasonal inactivated influenza vaccines among pregnant women and antibody persistence in their infants. Vaccine. 2020;38(33):5355-5363. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.05.059. Epub 2020 Jun 19. PubMed

Researchers in Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
Lisa.A.Jackson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer C. Nelson, PhD

Director of Biostatistics; Senior Investigator
206-287-2004
Jen.Nelson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH

Associate Investigator
206-287-2220
Michael.L.Jackson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-4257
Andrea.J.Cook@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2870
Sascha.Dublin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2389
Onchee.Yu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2557
Robert.D.Wellman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Doug Opel, MD, MPH
University of Washington (UW) Department of Bioethics and Humanities; UW Department of Pediatrics; UW Medical Center

Adjunct researchers

John Dunn, MD, MPH
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington

Elizabeth Lin, MD, MPH
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Family Practice;
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute