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

Jackson ML, Ferdinands J, Nowalk MP, Zimmerman RK, Kieke B, Gaglani M, Murthy K, Petrie JG, Martin ET, Chung JR, Flannery B, Jackson LA. Differences between Frequentist and Bayesian inference in routine surveillance for influenza vaccine effectiveness: a test-negative case-control study. BMC Public Health. 2021;21(1):516. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10543-z. PubMed

Kramer DB, Opel DJ, Parasidis E, Mello MM. Choices in a Crisis - Individual Preferences among SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. N Engl J Med. 2021 Mar 3. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp2102146. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Jackson ML, Starita L, Kiniry E, Phillips CH, Wellwood S, Cho S, Kiavand A, Truong M, Han P, Richardson M, Wolf CR, Heimonen J, Nickerson DA, Chu HY. Incidence of medically attended acute respiratory illnesses due to respiratory viruses across the life course during the 2018/19 influenza season. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Feb 16:ciab131. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab131. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Wu MJ, Chung JR, Kim SS, Jackson ML, Jackson LA, Belongia EA, McLean HQ, Gaglani M, Reis M, Beeram M, Martin ET, Monto AS, Nowalk MP, Zimmerman R, Santibanez TA, Singleton JA, Patel M, Flannery B. Influenza vaccination coverage among persons seeking outpatient medical care for acute respiratory illness in five states in the United States, 2011-2012 through 2018-2019. Vaccine. 2021 Feb 15:S0264-410X(21)00106-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.01.065. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Li X, Mukandavire C, Cucunubá ZM, Echeverria Londono S, Abbas K, Clapham HE, Jit M, Johnson HL, Papadopoulos T, Vynnycky E, Brisson M, Carter ED, Clark A, de Villiers MJ, Eilertson K, Ferrari MJ, Gamkrelidze I, Gaythorpe KAM, Grassly NC, Hallett TB, Hinsley W, Jackson ML, Jean K, Karachaliou A, Klepac P, Lessler J, Li X, Moore SM, Nayagam S, Nguyen DM, Razavi H, Razavi-Shearer D, Resch S, Sanderson C, Sweet S, Sy S, Tam Y, Tanvir H, Tran QM, Trotter CL, Truelove S, van Zandvoort K, Verguet S, Walker N, Winter A, Woodruff K, Ferguson NM, Garske T; Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium. Estimating the health impact of vaccination against 10 pathogens in 98 low and middle income countries from 2000 to 2030. Lancet. 2021 Jan 30;397(10272):398-408. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32657-X. 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

Senior 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