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

Chung JR, Flannery B, Gaglani M, Smith ME, Reis EC, Hickey RW, Jackson ML, Jackson LA, Belongia EA, McLean HQ, Martin ET, Segaloff HE, Kim SS, Patel MM. Patterns of influenza vaccination and vaccine effectiveness among young US children who receive outpatient care for acute respiratory tract illness. JAMA Pediatr. 2020 May 4:e200372. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.0372. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Chu HY, Englund JA, Starita LM, Famulare M, Brandstetter E, Nickerson DA, Rieder MJ, Adler A, Lacombe K, Kim AE, Graham C, Logue J, Wolf CR, Heimonen J, McCulloch DJ, Han PD, Sibley TR, Lee J, Ilcisin M, Fay K, Burstein R, Martin B, Lockwood CM, Thompson M, Lutz B, Jackson M, Hughes JP, Boeckh M, Shendure J, Bedford T; Seattle Flu Study Investigators. Early detection of Covid-19 through a citywide pandemic surveillance platform. N Engl J Med. 2020 Jul 9;383(2):185-187. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2008646. Epub 2020 May 1. PubMed

Somayaji R, Neradilek MB, Szpiro AA, Lofy KH, Jackson ML, Goss CH, Duchin JS, Neuzil KM, Ortiz JR. Effects of air pollution and other environmental exposures on estimates of severe influenza illness, Washington, USA. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(5):920-9. doi: 10.3201/eid2605.190599. PubMed

Smith ER, Fry AM, Hicks LA, Fleming-Dutra KE, Flannery B, Ferdinands J, Rolfes MA, Martin ET, Monto AS, Zimmerman RK, Nowalk MP, Jackson ML, McLean HQ, Olson SC, Gaglani M, Patel MM. Reducing antibiotic use in ambulatory care through influenza vaccination. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Apr 23. pii: ciaa464. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa464. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Lewnard JA, Liu VX, Jackson ML, Schmidt MA, Jewell BL, Flores JP, Jentz C, Northrup GR, Mahmud A, Reingold AL, Petersen M, Jewell NP, Young S, Bellows J. Incidence, clinical outcomes, and transmission dynamics of hospitalized 2019 coronavirus disease among 9,596,321 individuals residing in California and Washington, United States: a prospective cohort study. medRxiv. April 16, 2020.doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.12.20062943.

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