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. 

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
  • Ongoing monitoring of influenza vaccine effectiveness by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network, led by Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH, 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

Recent publications on Vaccines & Infectious Disease

Heimonen J, McCulloch DJ, O'Hanlon J, Kim AE, Emanuels A, Wilcox N, Brandstetter E, Stewart M, McCune D, Fry S, Parsons S, Hughes JP, Jackson ML, Uyeki TM, Boeckh M, Starita LM, Bedford T, Englund JA, Chu HY. A remote household-based approach to influenza self-testing and antiviral treatment. Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2021 May 3. doi: 10.1111/irv.12859. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Murphy SC, Deye GA, Sim BKL, Galbiati S, Kennedy JK, Cohen KW, Chakravarty S, Kc N, Abebe Y, James ER, Kublin JG, Hoffman SL, Richie TL, Jackson LA. PfSPZ-CVac efficacy against malaria increases from 0% to 75% when administered in the absence of erythrocyte stage parasitemia: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial with controlled human malaria infection. PLoS Pathog. 2021 28;17(5):e1009594. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009594. eCollection 2021 May. PubMed

Simon GE, Stewart CC, Gary MC, Richards JE. Detecting and assessing suicide ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 Apr 22:S1553-7250(21)00095-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.04.002. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Park S, Jung J, Larson EB. Preventable health behaviors, COVID-19 severity perceptions, and vaccine uptake in traditional medicare and medicare advantage: a survey-based study. J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Apr 12:1-4. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-06801-w. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Jackson ML, Hart GR, McCulloch DJ, Adler A, Brandstetter E, Fay K, Han P, Lacombe K, Lee J, Sibley TR, Nickerson DA, Rieder MJ, Starita L, Englund JA, Bedford T, Chu H, Famulare M. Effects of weather-related social distancing on city-scale transmission of respiratory viruses: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Infect Dis. 2021;21(1):335. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06028-4. 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)

Clarissa Hsu, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-4276
Clarissa.W.Hsu@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