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

Thompson MG, Jackson ML, Regan A, Katz MA, Kwong JC, Ball SW, Simmonds K, Klein NP, Naleway A. Reply to Skowronski, De Serres and Orenstein. Clin Infect Dis. 2019 Feb 7. pii: 5308620. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz115. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Rolfes MA, Flannery B, Chung J, O'Halloran A, Garg S, Belongia EA, Gaglani M, Zimmerman R, Jackson ML, Monto AS, Alden NB, Anderson E, Bennett NM, Billing L, Eckel S, Kirley PD, Lynfield R, Monroe ML, Spencer M, Spina N, Talbot HK, Thomas A, Torres S, Yousey-Hindes K, Singleton J, Patel M, Reed C, Fry AM; US Flu VE Network, the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET), and the Assessment Branch, Immunization Services Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Effects of influenza vaccination in the United States during the 2017-2018 influenza season. Clin Infect Dis. 2019 Feb 2. pii: 5305915. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz075. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Naleway AL, Ball S, Kwong JC, Wyant BE, Katz MA, Regan AK, Russell ML, Klein NP, Chung H, Simmonds KA, Azziz-Baumgartner E, Feldman BS, Levy A, Fell DB, Drews SJ, Garg S, Effler P, Barda N, Irving SA, Shifflett P, Jackson ML, Thompson MG. Estimating vaccine effectiveness against hospitalized influenza during pregnancy: multicountry protocol for a retrospective cohort study. JMIR Res Protoc. 2019;8(1):e11333. doi: 10.2196/11333. PubMed

Eller NM, Henrikson NB, Opel DJ. Vaccine information sources and parental trust in their child's health care provider. Health Educ Behav. 2019 Jan 7:1090198118819716. doi: 10.1177/1090198118819716. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

McClure DL, Jacobsen SJ, Klein NP, Naleway AL, Kharbanda EO, Glanz JM, Jackson LA, Weintraub ES, McLean HQ. Similar relative risks of seizures following measles containing vaccination in children born preterm compared to full-term without previous seizures or seizure-related disorders. Vaccine. 2019;37(1):76-79. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.11.038. Epub 2018 Nov 23. 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

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

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2389
Onchee.Yu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Biostatistician
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