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

Dublin S, Walker R, Floyd JS, Shortreed SM, Fuller S, Albertson-Junkans L, Harrington LB, Greenwood-Hickman MA, Green BB, Psaty BM. Response to "ACE-2 downregulation and incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection". Am J Hypertens. 2020 Dec 15:hpaa212. doi: 10.1093/ajh/hpaa212. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Widge AT, Rouphael NG, Jackson LA, Anderson EJ, Roberts PC, Makhene M, Chappell JD, Denison MR, Stevens LJ, Pruijssers AJ, McDermott AB, Flach B, Lin BC, Doria-Rose NA, O'Dell S, Schmidt SD, Neuzil KM, Bennett H, Leav B, Makowski M, Albert J, Cross K, Edara VV, Floyd K, Suthar MS, Buchanan W, Luke CJ, Ledgerwood JE, Mascola JR, Graham BS, Beigel JH; mRNA-1273 Study Group. Durability of responses after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 vaccination. N Engl J Med. 2020 Dec 3:NEJMc2032195. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2032195. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Newman KL, Rogers JH, McCulloch D, Wilcox N, Englund JA, Boeckh M, Uyeki TM, Jackson ML, Starita L, Hughes JP, Chu HY, Seattle Flu Study Investigators. Point-of-care molecular testing and antiviral treatment of influenza in residents of homeless shelters in Seattle, WA: study protocol for a stepped-wedge cluster-randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2020 Nov 23;21(1):956. doi: 10.1186/s13063-020-04871-5. PubMed

Emanuels A, Heimonen J, O’Hanlon J, Kim AE, Wilcox N, McCulloch DJ, Brandstetter E, Wolf CR, Logue JK, Han PD, Pfau B, Newman KL, Hughes JP, Jackson ML. Remote household observation for non-influenza respiratory viral illness. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Nov 17:ciaa1719. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1719. PubMed

Panagiotakopoulos L, McCarthy NL, Tepper NK, Kharbanda EO, Lipkind HS, Vazquez-Benitez G, McClure DL, Greenberg V, Getahun D, Glanz JM, Naleway AL, Klein NP, Nelson JC, Weintraub ES. Evaluating the association of stillbirths after maternal vaccination in the Vaccine Safety Datalink. Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Dec;136(6):1086-1094. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000004166. 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