Vaccines & Infectious Diseases

“To combat infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 and influenza, 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 how these illnesses spread.”

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 pneumonia 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 for infectious diseases of public health importance.

Central to this work is testing new vaccines against emerging diseases — such as COVID-19. In March 2020, KPWHRI gave the world’s first-ever injection of an investigational vaccine for COVID-19 in a phase 1 clinical trial led by Senior Investigator Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH. We continue to be at the forefront of efforts to understand and combat COVID-19. To learn more, see COVID-19 research at KPWHRI.

Successes over 3 decades of KPWHRI vaccine research 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 shingles vaccine in older adults across the Vaccine Safety Datalink 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 to vaccinate their children because of safety fears, leading to outbreaks of potentially deadly 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
  • The pivotal clinical trials of 7-valent, 13-valent, and 20-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in older adults 

Our current 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, and part of the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Consortium (IDCRC). Led by Dr. Lisa Jackson, the unit launched the world’s first trial of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine — the now-approved NIH-Moderna vaccine — and continues to test the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. To learn more, see COVID-19 research at KPWHRI.
  • Studies of how infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza spread through communities
  • Research to explore what types of communication and community engagement strategies are most effective at improving COVID-19 vaccine uptake among workers in long-term care facilities. Clarissa Hsu, PhD, is leading this research, which is being funded by a $4.75 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).
  • Ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of the influenza and COVID-19 vaccines by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network, led by Karen J. Wernli, PhD, KPWHRI senior investigator, and funded by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • Studies of immunization safety through the Vaccine Safety Datalink project, supported by the CDC and connecting information in large databases maintained by 8 American health plans including Kaiser Permanente Washington
  • Methodological research, led by Jennifer C Nelson, PhD, and Andrea J. Cook, PhD, to improve the statistical design and analysis approaches used to address vaccine safety questions in electronic health record data settings

Recent publications on Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Bi Q, Dickerman BA, Nguyen HQ, Martin ET, Gaglani M, Wernli KJ, Balasubramani GK, Flannery B, Lipsitch M, Cobey S. Reduced effectiveness of repeat influenza vaccination: distinguishing among within-season waning, recent clinical infection, and subclinical infection. LID - jiae220 [pii] LID - 10.1093/infdis/jiae220 [doi]  J Infect Dis. 2024 Apr 30:jiae220. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiae220 [Epub ahead of print] PubMed

Daley MF, Reifler LM, Shoup JA, Glanz JM, Lewin BJ, Klein NP, Kharbanda EO, McLean HQ, Hambidge SJ, Nelson JC, Naleway AL, Weintraub ES, McNeil MM, Razzaghi H, Singleton JA. Influenza vaccination accuracy among adults: Self-report compared with electronic health record data.  Vaccine. 2024;42(11):2740-2746. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2024.03.052. Epub 2024 Mar 25. PubMed

Williams JTB, Kurlandsky K, Breslin K, Durfee MJ, Stein A, Hurley L, Shoup JA, Reifler LM, Daley MF, Lewin BJ, Goddard K, Henninger ML, Nelson JC, Vazquez-Benitez G, Hanson KE, Fuller CC, Weintraub ES, McNeil MM, Hambidge SJ. Attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines among pregnant and recently pregnant individuals. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(4):e245479. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.5479.  PubMed

Magaret C, Li L, deCamp A, Rolland M, Juraska M, Williamson B, Ludwig J, Molitor C, Benkeser D, Luedtke A, Simpkins B, Carpp L, Bai H, Deariove B, Greninger A, Roychoudhury P, Sadoff J, Gray G, Roels S, Vandebosch A, Stieh D, Le Gars M, Vingerhoets J, Grinsztejn B, Goepfert P, Truyers C, Van Dromme I, Swann E, Marovich M, Follmann D, Neuzil K, Corey L, Hyrien O, Paiva de Sousa L, Casapia M, Losso M, Little S, Gaur A, Bekker LG, Garrett N, Heng F, Sun Y, Gilbert P. Quantifying how single dose Ad26.COV2.S vaccine efficacy depends on Spike sequence features.  Nat Commun. 2024;15(1):2175. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-46536-w.  PubMed

Frutos AM, Price AM, Harker E, Reeves EL, Ahmad HM, Murugan V, Martin ET, House S, Saade EA, Zimmerman RK, Gaglani M, Wernli KJ, Walter EB, Michaels MG, Staat MA, Weinberg GA, Selvarangan R, Boom JA, Klein EJ, Halasa NB, Ginde AA, Gibbs KW, Zhu Y, Self WH, Tartof SY, Klein NP, Dascomb K, DeSilva MB, Weber ZA, Yang DH, Ball SW, Surie D, DeCuir J, Dawood FS, Moline HL, Toepfer AP, Clopper BR, Link-Gelles R, Payne AB, Chung JR, Flannery B, Lewis NM, Olson SM, Adams K, Tenforde MW, Garg S, Grohskopf LA, Reed C, Ellington S; CDC Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Collaborators. Interim estimates of 2023-24 seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness - United States. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2024;73(8):168-174. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7308a3.  PubMed

Researchers in Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer C. Nelson, PhD

Director, Biostatistics; Senior Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Biostatistics Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Principal Collaborative Biostatistician

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Principal Collaborative Biostatistician

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Clarissa Hsu, PhD

Associate Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Brian D. Williamson, PhD

Assistant Biostatistics Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Noorie Hyun, PhD

Associate Biostatistics Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Pamela A. Shaw, PhD, MS

Senior Biostatistics Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Annie Piccorelli, PhD

Senior Collaborative Biostatistician

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